New Oregon law: No more phones in the driver seat starting Oct. 1

Starting Oct. 1, drivers cannot use or hold a cell phone or electronic device. Photo by Audrey Weil.

By Audrey Weil

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (KMTR) -- Starting October 1, 2017,, it will be illegal to use a phone for any purpose while driving.

And as one officer showed us, the new law will be a big change for Oregonians.

"There's one right there," Springfield Police Officer Tom Speldrich said.

It doesn't take him long to spot distracted drivers.

"He's shifting, looking back and forth, half the time. Right now half the time his eyes are on the road and half the time they're on his phone," Speldrich said as a man holding his phone drove down Gateway Street.

RELATED | How safe are school zones? Website offers rankings based on distracted driving data

Speldrich knows what he's looking for.

"When you see one set of knuckles and then you see a chin that's down, maybe not looking up at the road," he said, "that keys me in to look a little bit closer."

Under current Oregon law, you can use your phone while driving - just not for texting or calling.

"If it's something that's not two-way communication, it's allowed by law," Speldrich said. "But we know, common sense tells us it's not any safer to check your bank statement than it is to be texting while you're driving down the road."

Under the new law, it will all be illegal.

Starting Oct. 1, 2017, drivers cannot use or even hold an electronic device.

"Ultimately it is going to lead to our roadways being safer as drivers change their habits and put their phones away while they are driving," Speldrich said. "Distracted drivers run red lights, they sit through green lights, they speed, they drive too slow, they run the whole gamut of traffic safety code."

"It's like impaired driving. I mean you do enough times, those are only the times you get caught, you do it enough times and you're going to wipe somebody out," Speldrich said.

He knows just as well as anyone it's going to be a tough habit for drivers to break.

But he says hopefully it does the trick.