If you plan to text and drive in Oregon, better do it now (although we don’t recommend it) because the state legislature there is considering increasing the fine for drivers caught texting behind the wheel to $2,000.

This would make Oregon the leader when it comes to fines handed out for distracted drivers. In 2009 the state legislature set the fine for using a cell phone behind the wheel at $500. This was brought on by a surge in distracted driving that year: 312. The new fine brought on a bit of a dip in distracted driving crashes, but since 2011 that number has started increasing again, forcing legislators to revisit the issue as a matter of public safety.

Distracted driving crashes have continued to increase across the country, despite an increase in the number of laws banning that type of behavior. So far 40 states have some form of distracted driving ban in place and at least a half dozen more have something moving through the state legislature, like Florida and Texas who have been very resistant to a statewide ban.

The $2,000 fine being considered by Oregon would be enforced by police who will be empowered to stop drivers they see violating the law and write citations on the spot. The legislation would also require the Oregon Department of Transportation to install signs on state highways warning drivers about the enhanced fines. The goal being not to collect more fines, but to encourage drivers to NOT use their cell phones while trying to operate a vehicle.

Currently there are two separate bills moving through both houses of the state congress which would essentially be merged together to create one new law. It seems likely one or the other of the versions will eventually make it on the books meaning Oregon drivers who tempt fate behind the wheel by texting will soon have to pay a hefty price to do it.