>No more handheld cell phones
Drivers accustomed to sneaking a phone call in here and there, hoping they might get away with it, will have few excuses left after Jan. 1.
   That's when a law modifying Oregon's ban on cell phone use goes into effect, along with a few other transportation-related laws aimed at increasing safety on roads. Here's an overview of several specific laws:
   HB 3186: Cell phone use and texting while driving modifications. For most drivers, it is already against the law to use a handheld cell phone while driving in Oregon.
   The original law, however, allowed cell phone use "in the scope of the person's employment if operation of the motor vehicle is necessary for the person's job."
   That exemption is removed with House Bill 3186 effective Jan. 1, 2012, so that the only drivers allowed to use a handheld mobile communications device are those over 18 who are: 1) operating a roadside assistance or tow vehicle, or 2) operating a utility vehicle for the purpose of servicing a utility.
   In addition, the bill outlaws texting for all drivers. In essence, as of Jan. 1, it will be illegal for nearly everyone to use a cell phone and/or text while driving, unless it is a hands-free device (no exemptions for drivers under age 18).
   The violation is a Class D offense, with a base fine of $110, effective Jan. 1.
   HB 3590: Child safety seat update. This simple update lets child passengers weighing more than 40 pounds ride in any approved child-safety system designed for a child weighing more than 40 pounds.
   Previously, Oregon law required a child passenger weighing more than 40 pounds be secured in a booster seat using a lap or shoulder belt until age 8 or 4'9" tall.
   That's still legal; however, if you have a five-point child passenger safety seat system designed to accommodate children weighing over 40 pounds, it will be legal to use that as an alternative to a booster effective Jan. 1.
   ORS 807: (SB 546 from the 2009 Oregon Legislature), Motorcycle training. Effective Jan. 1, new motorcyclists aged 40 and under must complete an ODOT-approved motorcycle safety course before they can be issued a motorcycle endorsement by DMV.
   This is part of a phased-in law passed by the 2009 Oregon Legislature. For information on Oregon's approved motorcycle rider education courses, visit the TEAM Oregon website,
   SB 130: Bicycle and flashing yellow arrow signals. SB 130 adds definitions for green, yellow and red bicycle signals and describes how bicycles are expected to respond to these signals:
   Bicyclists facing a green bicycle signal may proceed through the intersection, turn right or turn left, unless a sign prohibits either turn movement. Bicycles must yield the right of way to other vehicles in the intersection at the time the signal turns green.
   Bicycles facing a yellow bicycle signal are warned the signal will soon turn to red. Bicyclists must stop at a marked stop line, before a marked crosswalk or before entering the intersection. If a bicyclist cannot safely stop, the bicyclist may proceed cautiously through the intersection.
   Bicyclists facing a red bicycle signal must stop at a marked stop line, before a marked crosswalk, or before entering the intersection. The bicyclists must remain stopped until the signal turns green or to make a turn movement otherwise allowed by law.
   SB 130 also adds a definition for a flashing yellow arrow signal to Oregon law and describes how drivers are expected to respond to a flashing yellow arrow signal. Drivers facing a flashing yellow arrow signal may make a turn but must yield to other drivers in the intersection and to approaching traffic.
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