Beginning this week and running through late April, police in almost 200 jurisdictions across New Jersey are engaging in a statewide crackdown on distracted driving. Police will be looking for drivers eating, grooming or, most prevalently, talking or texting on their cell phones.
The effort is a part of the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay enforcement campaign that combines periods of “intense anti-texting enforcement” coupled with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law, state officials say.
Distracted driving has been blamed in over 817,000 motor vehicle accidents across the state between 2010 and 2014. 3,179 people were killed from distracted driving accidents in 2014 alone.
Distracted driving is considered any activity, such as grooming, eating, or the most-widely used texting that diverts a driver from focusing on the road. While April is recognized as National Distracted Driving month, AAA Mid-Atlantic urges drivers to put the cellphones down in the car not only in April, but all year.
AAA’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index (TSCI) released earlier this year, finds that young millennials are the riskiest drivers, with 2 in 3 drivers admitting to talking on a cell phone while driving. Drivers ages 19-24 were 1.6 times as likely as all drivers to report having read a text message or e-mail while driving (66.1 percent vs. 40.2 percent), and they were nearly twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or e-mail while driving (59.3 percent vs. 31.4 percent). Many younger drivers don’t even realize that their behavior is dangerous. This campaign is designed to remind them that it is.