In 2012, more than 590 people died in traffic accidents in New Jersey. That was 32 fewer than the previous year— a 5% decrease.
However, state police blamed distracted driving for 178 of those deaths, the first increase in that statistic in four years. Among the most common distractions is the use of cell phones for talking or texting. Studies have shown that people driving while talking on the phone or texting are as impaired — if not more so — than people who drive under the influence of alcohol
The state currently has strict laws governing use of telephones in cars. Restrictions include:
Drivers must use hands-free tools while talking on the telephone
Playing video games or texting is prohibited
School bus drivers can’t use cell phones
Drivers younger than 21 with learner’s permits or probationary license can’t use cell phones (or any form of electronic devices) when driving
According to the South Jersey Traffic Safety Alliance, distracted driving can also include eating, messing with the radio, personal grooming or even talking to a passenger.
Efforts are under way to ramp up the scope and severity of the state’s laws against distracted driving. Key changes will be made to the fines paid for distracted driving. For example, the fine paid for a first-time offense would jump from $100 to $400. Subsequent offenses would mean progressively higher fines and eventually, license suspension.
It is clear that laws will continue to evolve and change as technology evolves and changes. It’s important to know and understand what those changes mean and how they might influence you and your legal situation following an accident. Contact a knowledgeable attorney today if you were injured by a distracted driver.
Posted in Personal Injury