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Bill would ban texting, cell phone use on Montana highways

Distracted driving is a serious safety issue in the United States. A Montana legislator is trying to reduce the danger in our state through a bill that would outlaw talking or texting on a cellular device while driving, unless that device is hands-free. State Representative Virginia Court of Billings is currently drafting the proposed law.

If the bill is enacted, it would make it illegal to use any electronic hand-held device while on a Montana highway. The ban would apply even when the driver is stopped for a stop sign or red light. The bill contains an exception for emergency situations. A first offense under the law would result in a $50 fine; a second offense would carry a $100 fine; and third and subsequent offenses would carry a $200 fine. Citations would not appear on the individual's driving record and insurance companies would be prohibited from using the citations to raise premiums.

Forty-four states currently have laws banning texting and driving. Fourteen states ban all cell phone use while driving. Montana is one of only six states that have no distracted driving bans at the state level. Most major cities in Montana, however, have laws that outlaw both talking on a cell phone and texting while driving. According to the Montana Department of Transportation, about 63 percent of Montana residents live in communities that have such laws.

A driver who distracts their attention from the road to text or talk on a cell increases the risk of a car accident. A person who is injured in a distracted driver accident may have the right to sue the distracted driver for damages. Consulting an experienced Billings personal injury law firm may be the first step in recovering compensation.

Source: NBC Montana, "Montanans react to proposed statewide cell phone ban," Scott Zoltan, Jan. 19, 2015

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