North Dakota Combats Distracted Driving

Cortnie Cottrell, News Writer

Texting while driving kills 11 teenagers every single day and causes more than 1.5

million motor vehicle accidents each year, according to UND’s distracted driving information

brochure, and that is only one type of distracted driving. In 2016, nationally, there was nearly

3,500 people killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved distracted drivers.


Many people think that distracted driving is simply the act of texting while driving, but

distracted driving really is any activity that could take a person’s attention away from the

primary task of driving. All distractions put the driver, passenger and bystander’s safety in

extreme danger.


The Vision Zero Plan is the result of a complete and coordinated effort by North Dakota

state agencies and more than 200 traffic safety officers representing state, local and tribal

governments and private organizations. The detailed plan uses data to identify areas of

improvement through education, roadway safety enhancements and policy decisions.


Active statewide on April 1, the Vision Zero Campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” is

equipping North Dakota roads with extra patrols on duty to better enforce the state’s distracted

driving law. This campaign is part of the Vision Zero strategy to help eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads. This campaign will be active through

April 30.


Vision Zero expresses the dangers of distracted driving but places an emphasis on texting

while driving which is the most common across nations. Texting while driving is prohibited to

all drivers in North Dakota and carries a $100 fine. Drivers that are under the age of 18 are

prohibited from using any kind of electronic communications devices including cell phones.


Drivers that are texting are 23 times more at risk of a crash or near-crash event than a

focused driver and are six times more likely to be involved in a crash than a drunk driver. If you

are driving distracted and commit a traffic violation, the driver (of any age), by default, can be

given a $100 fine. Also, simply sending just one text while driving at the speed of 55 mph is

equivalent to driving blindfolded the entire length of a football field.


According to the official portal for North Dakota State Government, more than 370

citations were issued in North Dakota to distracted drivers during the state’s two enforcement

periods just in the last year alone. With Vision Zero’s slogan of, “Zero fatalities. Zero excuses,”

they encourage everyone to visit the North Dakota Crash Memorial wall to view memorials built

on the hope of preventing another death on North Dakota roads. This memorial wall can be

found on Vision Zero’s webpage.


UND strongly encourages us all to take their pledge which states, “I will focus on the

road when I am behind the wheel and won’t put my own life and the lives of others in danger by

checking texts, calls, emails, and other distractions while driving.” Taking this pledge and

sticking to it will help prevent serious automotive accidents and life-threatening injuries. When behind the wheel, we are not only responsible for our lives, but everyone around us as well. We

must make the choice of driving 100% focused at all times.