Watch Out New Jersey: Police Crackdown on Texting During Distracted Driving Month

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To observe Distracted Driving Month, New Jersey police departments are cracking down on distracted driving, especially those who are using handheld electronic devices while behind the wheel.

Thanks to a $1 million grant from the Division of Highway Safety, police agencies are doubling their efforts to stop distracted driving. The grants are spread across 207 departments in most New Jersey counties including Essex, Bergen, Hudson, Morris, Passaic and Union.

“UDrive. UText. UPay.”

The campaign runs until April 21st and has the catchy name of “UDrive. UText. UPay.” – and violators will pay. It’s against the law in our state to use a handheld electronic device for any reason while driving (except for calling 911) including making calls, texting, using GPS, surfing the web or using email. Anyone caught using these devices while driving may receive a fine of $200 to $400 for a first offense. Subsequent violations can cost up to $800 along with three insurance points.

Driving while distracted is an increasingly prevalent behavior – and deadly. In New Jersey alone, more than 47,000 people were injured in 2017 car crashes that involved a distracted driver.

Texting While Driving – A Dangerous Habit for Young Drivers

Not surprisingly, teens are the largest age group reported as distracted in fatal auto accidents

Of all distracting behaviors, texting is the most hazardous. Texting on a handheld cellphone distracts the driver in three ways:

  • Visually while looking at the screen

  • Manually to hold and manipulate the phone

  • Cognitively because attention is not on the task of driving

The average time it takes to just read a text is 5 seconds. Traveling at 55 mph, a vehicle can move the length of a football field – without the driver ever looking at the road!

Parents – you can help your young driver make the right decisions while driving. First of all, be a role model. Put your own phone away! You can find more ideas on discussing this topic with your child along with a teen and parent contract at SafeKids.org.

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