ND Lawmakers Consider Bill that Expands Distracted Driving Law

Bill sponsor says cell phones aren’t the only distractions behind the wheel

We all know by now that talking on the phone or texting while driving is dangerous, even if we still do it and even if we don’t want to admit it. But some North Dakota lawmakers say that these oft-cited driving distractions are not the only dangers when people are behind the wheel. A bill was introduced to make any kind of distracted driving in the state unlawful.

The North Dakota House Transportation Committee began debating a new bill that would change the distracted driving law to include any activity “that engages the operator’s sight.” The only exception would be operating the vehicle (obviously) or using a built-in accessory of the vehicle. The bill would allow use of a hands-free navigation system or device to obtain assistance in an emergency. Basically, any activity that is not required to operate the vehicle would be outlawed by the bill.

At contention in the bill is a provision that would repeal a law that bans drivers from reading or sending text messages. The goal of the provision is not to make it legal to text while driving, but to remove the spotlight from this particular practice. Instead, the bill would outlaw all activities that would distract the driver, including even reaching for a CD that is in the console. House Minority Leader Corey Mock cited one example of a 19-year-old girl doing exactly that and then being hit and killed by a train.

Other lawmakers said that texting while driving was such a common and dangerous practice that it was worth singling it out. Mock responded by amending the proposed bill to keep that ban in place.

Lawmakers have not yet taken action on the proposed bill, but if it is signed into law, more drivers could face serious fines and penalties for things that they likely do all the time. Some possible actions that would be fined if the bill is passed include eating fast food while driving, passing items between the front and back seats, searching for items in the console or in a purse, and searching for directions on a phone.

Though some people might find the bill to be extreme, many applaud it for making the roads a bit safer. At the Larson Law Firm, we have seen first-hand what distracted driving can do. We have represented clients who have become permanently disfigured or who have lost their mobility because of an accident caused by a distracted driver. We know that what might seem like a simple phone call can actually lead to devastating, life-changing consequences. We fight for the people injured in those accidents to help them get the compensation they deserve for their medical expenses, time lost from work, pain and suffering, and more.

If you have been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver, or if you have lost a loved one from one of these accidents, we urge you to call the Larson Law Firm today at 701-484-4878 to talk with a Minot personal injury attorney about your legal rights. You can also use our secure online form to schedule a free consultation.