Law enforcement observing Distracted Driving Awareness Month
Officers will be paid overtime to crack down on distracted driving.
Law enforcement agencies across the state are participating in Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Lieutenant Jim Kringlie is with the Fargo Police Department. He says officers are being paid overtime through grants provided by the North Dakota Department of Transportation to focus solely on finding violations for distracted driving.
Kringlie says distracted driving has existed as long as vehicles have – but these days, there are many things that distract motorists. Cell phones are one thing that cause drivers to get sidetracked, but…
"There's also entertainment centers in the cars themselves, there's people who have laptops or tablets in their vehicles. There's just more things for people to get distracted, keeping their eyes and attention away from the task at hand, which should be driving safely."
Kringlie says Fargo’s ordinances against distracted driving mirror state law, which prohibits the use of electronic devices while driving or stopped in traffic. A driver can be cited for distracted driving if they commit another violation while they are distracted, and minor drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any electronic device while driving at all.
Kringlie says whatever device might beg your attention while you’re at the wheel, it’s important to do your best to ignore it. He says to shut ringers off or power down devices while driving, and that if you must answer a call or text – pull over to do it.
"On our busier roads, when we have those rear-end accidents, they're almost always caused because the driver was distracted. They rear-ended the car in front of them. Sometimes, it causes a chain reaction. Before you think, I gotta answer that text, I'm expecting a message or a text from somebody - what if you crash, cause a lot of damage, OR, which has happened - you kill somebody. Is it that important? Prioritize, stick to the task at hand, which is driving safely. You can get to the text later."