Why do people persist in using their mobile phones to talk or text behind the wheel? Everyone knows it's incredibly dangerous. Nevertheless, the number of people using hand-held devices while behind the wheel grew from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2014.
In recent years, state and federal government traffic safety officials have run a massive campaign, attempting to educate drivers on the many dangers of talking, texting or emailing on a cell phone from behind the wheel. And, in some ways, that campaign has been highly successful. Multiple surveys show that drivers in Hackensack and throughout the state and country are now well aware that distracted driving significantly increases the chances of car accidents, injuries and fatalities. But, as those same surveys indicate, motorists continue to text and drive.
Under a new state law, New Jersey drivers who fail to properly restrain their pets in the car could face criminal charges and financial penalties. The goal of the new restraint requirement is to reduce the number of car accidents caused by drivers who are distracted by their pets, and to protect animals from harm in the event of a crash. In a 2010 AAA survey, more than 31 percent of drivers said that they were distracted by their dog while driving.
In a decision that was widely tracked both in and outside of New Jersey, a judge has ruled that the sender of a text message cannot be held responsible for any accidents that take place as a result of the recipient's reading or responding to that text message.
Most New Jersey residents are well aware of the dangers of texting while driving. But texting while walking? The only possible danger of that, it seems, is to gain notoriety after the video of the walker falling into a fountain or walking into a tree goes viral on YouTube.
With all the attention that has been paid to distracted driving in recent years, it is almost shocking to read statistics indicating that drivers continue to text and talk while behind the wheel. Yet according to a new survey of teenage drivers, that is exactly what is happening: about 30 percent of respondents stated that they had sent or read a text while driving in the past month, and nearly half said that they had made a cell phone call without a hands-free device.
Although we are just a few days into 2012, the New Jersey State Police is likely already setting its agenda for the new year: determining why there were so many car accident deaths lasts year, and figuring out how to lower that number in the coming year.
Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that state lawmakers enact bans of cell phone use in semi trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles. Now, the NTSB has expanded its previous recommendation, asking for a universal ban of cell phone use of any kind in every vehicle on the road. This will hopefully reduce and ultimately eliminate car accidents caused by distracted driving, officials say.
In recent years, state and local governments have worked to decrease the occurrence of distracted driving with safety campaigns that were primarily aimed at teenage drivers. However, a recent study indicates that the parents of those teen drivers may need to pay closer attention to those campaigns.
In the ongoing fight against distracted driving, there is a new weapon. With the release of a few new applications, the very smartphones that were previously responsible for so many distracted driving-related car accidents may now actually prevent drivers from talking and texting behind the wheel. Although such applications, or apps, are still in their early stages, law enforcement officials in New Jersey and throughout the country are hopeful that they will remove the temptation to use a cell phone while driving.