On Jan. 1, penalties for talking on the phone in your car are going up. And for the first time, there's no smoking if a kid's in the car. From ODOT:
Fine increases for mobile device usage
Senate Bill 9 changes Oregon's traffic offense of operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device from a Class D violation to a Class C. The minimum fine for a class C violation is $142, and the fine for this offense can be as high as $500. The fine's increase is aimed at reducing the number of crashes that involve a driver talking on a handheld phone or texting. In Oregon from 2009 to 2011, nine people died in crashes involving a driver who was reportedly using a cell phone at the time of the crash, and 673 people have been injured.
Using a cell phone while driving falls under the category of "distracted driving," and this type of distraction is an increasingly dangerous behavior across the country. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the U.S. 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver in 2011, compared to 3,267 in 2010.
The behavior is especially dangerous for younger drivers: 11 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash.
Any activity that diverts a person's attention away from the primary task of driving is dangerous. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study revealed that physically dialing a phone while driving increases the risk of a crash as much as six times. Texting is riskier still, increasing the collision risk by 23 times.
Even though a majority of Oregonians believe texting and hand-held cell phone use while driving is unsafe, some still choose to do so. According to a 2012 phone survey of Oregon drivers, more than 70 percent said they know cell phones are a safety problem and that phoning and texting while driving are illegal. In spite of this, cell phone convictions in Oregon have steadily risen from an initial 40 in 2008 to 22,892 in 2012.
New smoking offense created
Senate Bill 444 created the new offense of smoking in a vehicle while a person younger than 18 years old is in the vehicle. The maximum fine for the first offense is $250, and the maximum fine for repeat offenses is $500.
This new law is considered a "secondary" law: a police officer may cite for this offense only if the officer has already stopped a vehicle for another violation or offense.
Anybody ancient enough to remember this?
From billboards in Oregon airports to Christmas carols, Oregon Wild is going all out with its campaign to save Oregon's public forests. Looks like the Oregon group is giving the Center for Biological Diversity a run for its money in terms of clever media play. Can Oregon Wild beat the Endangered Species condoms? How about something more gender-inclusive like anti-clearcut dental dams or old-growth vibrators? (Don't procreate! Recreate!).
Utah has a unique plan to end homelessness and save taxpayers money by providing free apartments and caseworkers. See
The Obamacare rap spoof of Snoop Dog (Snoop Lion?)'s "Drop it like it's hot" is weirdly fascinating.
“So don’t stand and diddle. My healthcare’s the ‘shizzle.’ It’s chock full of top notch healthcare ‘provizzles.’"
But even weirder was Karl Rove's response on Fox. According to Politico, Rove said:
“I worry about something that seems aim to glorification of the commander-in-chief, the president of the United States as opposed to simply advocating young people go out and sign up for this entitlement program,” Rove said Thursday on Fox News’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” Rove continued, “This disturbingly gets too close to the line. I think it, in fact, crosses it.” “Could you imagine if such a thing had been run by George Bush or Bill Clinton or Bush 41 or Reagan?” Rove asked. “‘I have two terms, I’m really cool, I’m really hip.’ How much public outcry there could have been?”
These days the fact that climate change is happening is a given (and yeah, we say "climate" change becaue when you say "global warming" people tend to point to a cold snap and say, how is THAT global warming? Because, climate change.) But can you explain how the global warming/climate change phenomenon works?
No worries, this cartoon will do it for you in under a minute.
For those of us with a slightly longer attention span, here's the five-minute version:
This just in from Sen. Jeff Merkley's staff:
Today Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced he will vote for the Murray-Ryan budget compromise, which will offer some relief from sequestration for the next two fiscal years.
“For the last three years, Congress has been governing from crisis to crisis, hurting the economy and the American families who depend on Congress to take on the big challenges we face as a nation. This plan, though not one I would’ve written, will help prevent a government shutdown and provide some relief from the draconian sequestration cuts that have been keeping kids out of Head Start, halting deliveries of meals-on-wheels, and stopping cutting-edge research and development.
“I am deeply disturbed that the deal changes the cost of living adjustments for retiring military personnel, yet fails to eliminate a single tax loophole for powerful special interests. It is also shameful that this deal does not extend unemployment benefits for our millions of jobless Americans looking for work. I hope that we address this issue as soon as possible, preferably before we leave for the year. We cannot leave millions of families out in the cold.
“Compromise means we don't get everything we want; instead we work with our colleagues across the aisle to get the best deal we can. We must stop governing from crisis to crisis, and we must mitigate the sequester's damaging impacts on programs that are critical for working families. This budget will put us on the path towards doing that. That is why I will vote yes.”
EPD's police blotter highlights from the first half of December are a good reminder: Verifying that the person tying you up is trustworthy might take some time, but it might also save you some trouble.
A 22-year-old man reported he met another male online and they began emailing back and forth. There was an agreement to meet at the 22-year-old’s apartment to play a game involving being tied up. Once the 22-year-old realized the game was getting out of hand, it was too late. The suspect loaded up anything of value and left. It took some time, but the victim was able to free himself.
"Hey, man. Don't steal her purse (that's how you talk in Eugene, where everyone's a hippie)," says former Eugene bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler on the Small Screen site as he tells the story wearing a Red Agave T-shirt. Morgenthaler has a show on the site called The Morgenthaler Method, born out of his longtime blog.
Excellent video from Oregon Natural Desert Association on hiking the Oregon Desert Trail. See also the ONDA newsletter at http://onda.org/publications/newsletter/winter-2013