A North Dakota lawmaker wants to protect drivers that negligently hit people blocking traffic, shifting the blame from the motorists to the pedestrians. The measure comes as a direct response to car accidents involving protestors hit by drivers at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The bill is sponsored by Keith Kempenich, state representative.
On Monday, January 16th, he told reporters that drivers who travel in their cars should not be held responsible for pedestrians that wander in their path. He explained that motorists have a right to drive their cars down the roads and exercise such right lawfully. Hence, they shouldn’t face legal consequences if someone interferes with their legal right.
“Those people didn’t ask to be in this”, said state Rep. Keith Kempenich.
According to the reporters, he said he is aiming to shift the blame from drivers who exercise their right to drive down the road to pedestrians who are not legally allowed to interfere with the motorists right and have no place on the road, outside of their designated areas.
The report states that state Rep. Keith Kempenich was especially concerned for drivers who panic when they see a mob or protesters heading their way and hit the gas pedal by mistake, rather than the brake. He added that protesters are welcomed to express their point of view for how long they want to, but they have no right to invade the motorists’ driving space as this could be dangerous to all the parties involved.
Protesters at Standing Rock Indian Reservation are opposing a project that involves transporting oil from North Dakota approximately 1,200 miles away to a shipping point in Illinois through Iowa and South Dakota. At this point, the construction is almost finished, apart from a stretch under a Missouri reservoir, Lake Oahe, in southern North Dakota.
The Cheyenne River Sioux and Standing Rock tribes are protesting against the pipeline construction because they believe it is going to alter the river’s drinking water and surrounding cultural sites altogether. Since the protest began in August 2016, almost 600 individuals have been taken into custody by local law enforcement officers and costed North Dakota peace agencies an estimated $22 million, reads the official report.
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