North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has signed into law legislation that imposes a $100 fine on drivers who fail to maintain vehicle control and commit a moving violation or cause a crash because of distraction.

The state vehicle code amendment broadens the state’s definition of distracted driving to include any extraneous activity — not just texting — that might impair the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle safely. That would include such commonly seen driver distractions as eating, reading and grooming.

The change in law takes effect Aug. 1.

North Dakota law already prohibits the use of wireless communications devices to compose, read or send electronic messages while driving. But the newly approved vehicle code change also updates the law to permit such communications when conducted through hands-free, voice-activated means. The state doesn’t prohibit all handheld phone use.