Does North Dakota’s Distracted Driving Law Need Expansion?

In a recent letter to the editor of The Daily News, a North Dakota publication, state Rep. Corey Mock used the story of Kelsie Myers to argue that North Dakota’s existing distracted driving law was inadequate to address the problem posed by distracted drivers on the road. Ms. Myers was killed after her vehicle was struck by a freight train while she was traveling across a railroad crossing. Ms. Myers reportedly failed to see the train because she was distracted – not by a cellphone, as one might expect, but because she was searching for a CD in her car.

Driving Distractions Come in Various Formsdriving-844132_1920

When discussing the problem of “distracted driving” in the United States, the term “distracted driving” itself is often used interchangeably with “texting while driving.” However, there are many other ways in which a driver may be distracted, and these alternative means of becoming distracted are just as deadly as texting while driving:

  • Having a heated or engaging conversation with a passenger;
  • Changing the radio station or selecting music while the car is in motion;
  • “Taking in the sights” or diverting one’s gaze to look somewhere else other than the road in front of the driver;
  • Loud sounds that startle or distract the driver (such as a siren, construction noise, a nearby crash or car horn, or other similar sound);
  • Trying to calm a fussy or unruly child;
  • Reaching for an item that has fallen onto the floorboard.

In fact, anything that causes the driver’s attention, focus, and/or hands and feet to be distracted or taken away from the task of driving safely can lead to a distracted driving wreck. As the tragic story of Ms. Myers indicates, fatal or serious distracted driving crashes are not limited to those situations involving a cell phone.

Is Additional Legislation the Answer?

Rep. Mock notes North Dakota’s current law does not address many forms of distracted driving such as reading a text message or using apps on cellular phones. As a result, he would have the legislature revisit its distracted driving laws and prohibit additional forms of driving distractions. However, legislation may not be enough: drivers speed despite posted speed limits enforced through hefty fines, and criminal acts still occur despite an expansive criminal code. Instead, perhaps the best way to reduce distracted driving is a combination of stricter laws and driver education efforts.

Contact a North Dakota Car Crash Attorney

If you or a loved one have been injured or killed by a distracted driver, experienced legal counsel is necessary to help ensure you receive adequate and fair compensation for your injuries. Contact North Dakota personal injury attorneys: Tatum O’Brien, Sara Morgan or Tim O’Keeffe of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys for assistance. Your car injury lawyer will help you understand your rights and take decisive steps to help secure your future. Call O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Attorneys today at (701) 235-8000 or (877) 235-8002.

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