North Dakota joined ranks with thirty other states that have enacted laws to decrease distracted driving accidents. Most of the states, including North Dakota, have taken aim at the use of cell phones while driving. Eight states have banned all use of (hand held) cell phones while driving. Thirty one states, including North Dakota have banned texting and driving.
Statistics show that drivers who use their phones are four times more likely to be in a serious accident. The use of mobile devices was found to be the number one factor in distracted driving accidents. A driver who is using their phone shows the same impairment in reaction time as a driver under the influence, with a blood alcohol of 0.8%.
An analysis of accident and fatality reports showed a significant increase in accidents resulting from the driver being distracted by their phone. In four years (2005 to 2009) the accident and fatality rates increased by six percent. In 2009, distracted driver fatality accidents accounted for 16 percent of all fatality wrecks.
This is when states stepped in and started legislating for new laws with stronger penalties for drivers caught on their phones or texting. Many of the states set up campaigns to heighten awareness of the dangers involved with distracted driving.
Police were given more lenience by allowing them to pull a vehicle over if they could see the driver using their phone. Before, the driver had to be breaking a traffic law before the police could stop them; even if they could see them using their phone.
Since the driving while distracted campaign started in 2009, there have been 31 states enact laws banning texting while driving. Eight states have banned the use of mobile devices while driving; including the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.
The driving while distracted campaign started as a pilot program in about three towns. After just two months into the program, the numbers showed that drivers using their phones dropped by 0.4%. The total outcome after six months showed a decrease in accidents involving cell phone use.