Montana Distracted Driving Law
- No current bans for distracted driving.
Montana’s Texting While Driving Stand
On January 17th, a new law went into effect in Bozeman, Montana by prohibiting cell phone usage of any kind while driving. There was a similar law passed on December 7th that was put into effect to stop bicyclists and everyone driving a car from using any kind of device that would impair their concentration while driving. If one was to break either of these two laws, you would get hit with a $100 fine each time.
There are many other cities in the Montana area that have buckled down with their cell phone usage laws. These cities include Missoula, Whitefish and others. In 2011, the State Senate rejected a bill that would ban cellular usage in the whole state of Montana. The law since has been overviewed by the head of the transportation committee. Cities in Montana are starting to budge with the cell phone usage while driving, but the state of Montana as a whole has not yet given into the idea.
When Bozeman’s law went into effect Jan. 17 there was a grace period of one month given to drivers, who may have not been alert to this passed law. There were over seventy drivers that were stopped during this one-month-long grace period which ended mid-February. This number alone shows many people use their cell phones while driving. Many more use their phone every day and never get stopped, so the number is much higher than on record.
After this month-long grace period, the police took no time before writing $100 tickets to each driver who broke the law. There was a bill turned down that would have banned the use of handheld cellular and other mobile electronic devices while driving in the whole state. You would have been able to use your cell phone hands-free, but unable to text or make calls. These would also have been another $100 fine. The latest action before this bill was denied was being approved and amended by the Senate Transportation.
On November 28, 2011, the Bozeman city commissioners voted to outlaw the use of cell phones while driving. This would ban the usage of cell phones to make calls or texts. Bicyclists are also banned from using handheld devices, on the highway. This law also prohibits the use of GPS data entry and the usage of any handheld device, including laptop computers. On most occasions, during the first year of distracted drivers or no cell phone usage laws being passed, it can yield as many as 200 tickets. In this time almost twice as many warnings are issued. Once again, these are only the times that have been tracked. The surveys taken by high school students in the Montana area are stunning.
A survey conducted on February 6th, 2011 showed that half of Montana high school students admitted to text messaging while driving in the past month. This report was done by the state off of Public Instruction reports. The exact number was 53 percent of students admitted to using their cell phones while driving. More students have been thought to have done this but did not admit to it. This report was released in July 2011.
There was also a report done recently to show the link between cell phone usage and deaths. The Montana Highway Patrol has released reports that were taken years ago when cell phone usage while driving was being reviewed. It stated that in 2009, there were almost 100 deaths that in some way were linked to drivers using their cell phones while driving. Only 63 deaths in that same year were shown to have been from alcohol-induced accidents. This does vary greatly even though most would never realize how wide range this number could be.
It appears that Montana is one of the last states to act accordingly when it comes to the ban on cell phone usage while driving. It might be some time before Montana decides to ban any kind of cell phone entirely or other mobile devices while driving, but at least certain cities are choosing to do so right now.