Distracted driving is a problem in Montana and throughout the United States. While there are many ways in which drivers’ attention can be diverted from the road, texting is among the worst. States are increasingly seeking solutions to the problem by crafting laws against the practice and penalizing drivers.
Recently, there were two remaining states that did not legislate against texting and driving: Missouri and Montana. Now that Missouri has enacted a ban, Montana stands alone. People who use the state roads need to be aware of this to try and avoid being in a crash with a distracted driver.
Montana has tried and failed to address texting and driving
The Missouri law places an outright ban on using a handheld device. This means drivers cannot talk, text, surf the web or do anything else while holding the device. It does allow for drivers to use their device if they have a hands-free attachment. Montana is the lone holdout in legislating against this practice.
In the spring of 2023, Montana lawmakers considered a bill to make it illegal to text and drive, but it failed. The Montana Department of Transportation says that the state has 15 areas where using a mobile device is illegal.
The ordinances and what they entail vary. For example, Bozeman does not allow drivers to use their device while they are operating the vehicle unless it is hands-free. Butte-Silver Bow has the same rule. Still, there is no statewide law against it and many lawmakers believe it infringes on people’s rights to have any form of legislation outlawing it.
Teen drivers are particularly vulnerable to the temptation. Many are inexperienced and believe they can do more than one thing at a time safely. Even with certain demographics at greater risk to text and drive, it is an issue that impacts everyone regardless of their age and driving record.
Distracted driving accidents happen without warning
When a driver is not paying attention to the road, they are prone to being involved in motor vehicle accidents. Regardless of how vigilant people are when they are heading to work, running errands, taking their children to school or taking a walk, they can be hit by a distracted driver.
People who were hurt and their family members will have a litany of questions after the accident. These revolve around medical costs, getting proper treatment, how their job will be impacted and what their legal options are. Since there are no statewide distracted driving laws, people must be extra cautious. Part of that is knowing how to proceed if they have been in this kind of collision.