North Dakota Bill Would Limit Access to Crash Reports

February 6, 2013

The North Dakota Senate is considering a bill that would clamp down on who can access information from a crash report, putting it at odds with news outlets that contend the information should be available to the general public.

Under Senate Bill 2310, only people involved in the crash or their legal representatives or insurers would be able to access personal identifying information such as driver identification numbers, names, addresses or telephone numbers of crash victims, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Bill sponsor Sen. Dave Oehlke said the bill would protect the wrong people from getting information.

But a lobbyist for the North Dakota Newspaper Association and the North Dakota Broadcasters Association said closing off access to the details would force media to rely on secondhand information. Jack McDonald submitted written testimony in opposition of the bill.

“This information has been public since the inception of accident reports,” he wrote.

He added that the public would not be well-served.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation is not taking a stance on the bill, said safety division director Mark Nelson.