North Dakota law enforcement will begin a month-long distracted driving awareness campaign September 1st, aimed at reducing accidents and deaths.
It's called U Drive, U Text, U Pay. Lauren Bjork is Safety Public Information Program Manager with the North Dakota Department of Transportation. She says the most recent data from 2017 shows 3,200 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes where texting and driving was a factor. Bjork says there are many other behaviors that can contribute to distracted driving.
"Distraction can be so many different things when you're out on the road - whether it's your phone, whether you're on an app - but it can also be eating, reaching for a drink, talking to someone next to you, changing the radio station. Distraction comes in many different forms, and it's all a hazard when you're out on the road."
Bjork says a driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash if they are texting.
She says law enforcement will be working overtime throughout the month of September to issue citations for distracted driving. Bjork says the overall goal is not to collect fines - but to create more awareness of the problems with distracted driving.
The NDDOT is sharing the story of Melanie Johnson and her family's close call with a distracted driver back in 2017 - her story can be viewed here: https://visionzero.nd.gov/strategies/DistractedDriving/MelanieJohnsonStory/