According to statistics, motorists who engage in distracted driving in North Dakota are 23 times more likely than other drivers to be involved in a car crash. Distracted driving facts for ND drivers also indicate that these behaviors are the cause of most accidents every year. Furthermore, driving distractions pose a threat to motorists, passengers and pedestrians alike.

Distracted driving laws aim to restrict certain dangerous behaviors, such as texting and driving, in order to ensure that motorists can focus on operating a vehicle safely.

However, many drivers may not know all the laws that pertain to them. To discover important facts about distracted driving in North Dakota and learn advice on how motorists can avoid the accidents and penalties related to these practices, you can refer to the following sections.

What is distracted driving in North Dakota?

By definition, distracted driving in ND encompasses any activity that distracts a motorist from operating a vehicle. As a general rule, driving distractions are classified as visual, manual or cognitive. However, these distractions may also be unintentional, such as responses to external stimuli taking place inside or outside the vehicle.

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that distracted driving accidents resulted in an estimated 3,500 fatalities. Examples of the types of distractions that can occur behind the wheel include:

  • Texting and driving
  • Changing the radio or adjusting the console
  • Communicating with passengers, pedestrians or other drivers
  • Talking on a phone
  • Eating or drinking
  • Reading
  • Grooming
  • Consulting or altering a navigation device, such as a GPS or smartphone

While few of the driving distractions listed above warrant legal intervention, drivers must realize that many of these activities can be dangerous and are unadvisable to do while driving. Moreover, distracted driving laws in North Dakota grant law enforcement officers the right to cite drivers involved in an auto accident with extra penalties if they were potentially involved in distracting behaviors.

This means that, depending on the particular circumstance, drivers may be held accountable for any type of driving distraction.

Distracted Driving Laws in North Dakota for Handheld Devices

As one of seven states that received a distracted driving grant from the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 Century (MAP-21) federal program, North Dakota has banned the use of handheld devices for specific purposes. This ban encompasses writing, reading and sending electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle.

On the other hand, this distracted driving law does not affect drivers’ ability to use their handheld devices for voice communication. In fact, ND only has a complete ban on handheld devices for certain drivers.

Texting and Driving Laws in North Dakota

Texting while driving is strictly prohibited for all drivers under ND law. Because texting and driving accidents have claimed thousands of lives and remain prevalent in the state, motorists who are found texting can be immediately reprimanded as primary offenders. Still, texting and driving laws have a few exceptions, including:

  • Entering, reading or selecting a phone number.
  • Interacting with a navigation device, like a GPS.
  • Using a device that can perform functions not specified as illegal.
  • Contacting emergency services.
  • Using hands-free or voice-operated technology.

North Dakota’s bans against cell phone use while driving apply to motorists whenever they are fully stopped at traffic lights or stop signs. However, it is important to note that drivers are not restricted from using these devices and may even text if hands-free functions are enabled on their devices.

North Dakota Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Since 2011, novice drivers have been unable to text and drive or use their handheld or hands-free devices in any way. By definition, novice motorists are those who are younger than 18 years of age. On the other hand, novice drivers are exempt from being issued distracted driving citations if they use their devices for one of the following reasons:

  • They are contacting emergency services.
  • They are preventing a crime about to be committed.
  • They have reason to believe that someone’s safety is in danger.

North Dakota Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts texting and driving and using a handheld device in any manner for motorists who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL). Instead, distracted driving laws only allow commercial drivers to use a hands-free device. Therefore, the following uses of a mobile device are illegal for CDL holders in North Dakota:

  • Holding a mobile device in at least one hand to make a call
  • Dialing a phone number or pressing more than one button on a device
  • Reaching for a device in a way that disrupts a driver’s seated position

These laws against distracted driving apply to all motorists operating commercial vehicles on public roadways, including those who are temporarily stopped due to traffic signs or lights.

Distracted Driving Penalties in North Dakota

In order to stop distracted driving, various penalties have been employed in North Dakota. As such, motorists can expect to be issued a distracted driving ticket whenever they engage in these behaviors. Each ticket will disclose a specific fine amount depending on the nature of the offense, and detail whether any points will be added to a motorist’s driving record.

The distracted driving penalties drivers may expect to face depend on the severity of their offenses. For instance, in the case of texting while driving offenses, motorists may receive a $100 fine. Moreover, novice drivers between 14 and 15 years of age may receive a $20 fine and four points to their driving records for illegal cell phone use, whereas motorists between 16 to 17 years of age may simply receive the $20 fine.

Additionally, distracted driving consequences may include additional violations if drivers break other driving regulations while being distracted.

Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in North Dakota

Distracted driving affects all individuals present in ND roads. Thus, it is important for drivers to prevent engaging in these behaviors. Furthermore, it is very easy for motorists to eliminate most types of driving distractions and act as responsible citizens who care to preserve the lives of those around them. The following is a list of tips that drivers can use to prevent disasters that stem from distractions behind the wheel:

  1. Abstain from using electronic devices while driving.
  2. Do not multitask.
  3. Stay alert and limit the time spent on other tasks such as looking at road signs.
  4. Pull over when fatigued or otherwise distracted.
  5. Ensure all loose items and passengers are secured before driving.
Last updated on Wednesday, October 14 2020.