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Put the phone away: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. begins April 1

Put the phone away: U Drive. U Text. U Pay. begins April 1

For Immediate Release: Mar 31 2022
STATEWIDE, N.D. – The national distracted driving enforcement campaign U Drive. U Text. U Pay. begins Friday in North Dakota. Law enforcement across the state will have extra patrols to enforce the state’s distracted driving law from April 1 – 30.

Joe Earl of Dickinson, ND was 24 years-old and lived life to the fullest, says his dad, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Earl. On November 9, 2020, Joe lost his life in a single vehicle rollover crash in Morton County. It is believed that Joe was distracted at the time of his crash.

“Finding the cell phone, that’s of significant importance. It could give us clues as to whether the driver was driving distracted,” explains responding Trooper Isaiah Jackson. “And phones, when you pick them up, they wake up. And when I picked up his phone, on the screen was a gaming app in the middle of being played.”

As a sheriff’s deputy, Bill Earl enforces traffic safety laws in North Dakota but explains that when Joe was growing up, distracted driving wasn’t at the forefront of conversations, so he wasn’t always the best example. In a series of new videos for Vision Zero, Bill recalls the circumstances that led up to his son’s crash.

“I feel bad, like I set the bad example because I taught him bad behavior. It’s hard to deal with that part,” said Deputy Bill Earl. “But then, people started talking about distracted driving more once he became older and I started harping on him about it but by that time it was too late. The behavior was already there.”

Deputy Earl’s message to parents: model the driving behavior they expect their child to use.

“Make sure you teach your kids the right way and lead by example because kids are watching,” said Earl.

This campaign is part of the Vision Zero strategy to eliminate motor vehicle crash fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.