State launches awareness and crackdown campaign against distracted driving – Essex News Daily
TRENTON, NJ – Kicking off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Highway Safety recently announced the results of a 2021 study, which found that at any one time, one in five drivers in some high-accident lanes in New Jersey were driving while distracted. The study, commissioned by HTS and conducted by Rowan University, also provided insight into distracted driver behavior and identified key contributing factors.
Also in honor of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, HTS rolled out an updated version of its successful 2021 “Take Control of Your Destiny” distracted driving awareness campaign and launched “U Drive . U Text. You pay. — a month-long, statewide law enforcement campaign targeting distracted driving.
“Distracted driving kills people – it’s that simple. And those deaths are entirely preventable,” Platkin said. “As part of the Murphy administration’s focus on keeping all residents safe of New Jersey, we are stepping up education and enforcement efforts statewide and calling on drivers to do their part and stay alert and focused at all times behind the wheel.”
Distracted driving has long been a leading cause of accidents in New Jersey. Data shows that driver inattention accounted for more than half of all recorded crashes in the state from 2011 to 2020, and nearly a third of fatal crashes during that time – surpassing speeding and drinking and driving as a contributing factor to road deaths.
“Distracted driving continues to be a serious problem in New Jersey,” said NJ Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Drivers are responsible for their actions while driving a vehicle. Please put the phone down and eliminate other driving distractions so the focus can be on safe driving.
To better understand and address the problem of distracted driving, HTS – through the Center for Research and Education in Advanced Transportation Engineering Systems at Rowan University – commissioned a study to go beyond crash statistics to provide a broader picture of the problem of distracted driving in New Jersey. .
The study focused on six New Jersey corridors with high distracted driving crashes — US1, US9, US130, I-80, US22, and Garden State Parkway — and four other major arterial and interstate roads in the state. – I-295, I-95, NJ18 and NJ55.
During the spring and summer of 2021, researchers traveled nearly 15,000 miles on the 10 routes in a vehicle equipped with cameras on both sides to observe, record and document distracted driving in real time.
The researchers specifically looked for visual distractions, such as drivers looking away from the road while texting or talking to passengers; manual distractions, such as drivers taking their hands off the wheel while texting, receiving calls, listening to the radio, reaching for something, or eating/drinking; and cognitive distractions, such as drivers forgetting to drive when texting or receiving calls).
Main conclusions of the study include: at any one time, more than 20% of motorists on the selected roads were distracted while driving. Driver distraction was higher on weekdays than on weekends. Cell phones were the main type of distraction on weekends and weekdays. Receiving calls, texting, eating/drinking and grooming were more common as forms of distraction on weekdays than on weekends; talking to passengers was a more common form of distraction on weekends than on weekdays. Roads with traffic lights experienced more ‘bathing and eating/drinking’ distractions than roads without traffic lights, while the latter had a greater proportion of ‘talking to passengers’ events. The overall rate of distractions was higher during the “peak hours” of 9 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. An increase in the speed limit significantly increased distracted driving, while an increase in the number of lanes
“While the overall findings of the Rowan study paint a bleak picture, the insights gained from the study provide us with important insights that will be used to develop strategies to address and mitigate distracted driving through the application of law and education,” said Eric Heitmann, director of HTS. “Tackling driver inattention is a top priority for HTS, especially during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, when we join states across the nation in raising awareness of this issue and cracking down on violators.”
The launch of the “Destiny 2.0” public awareness campaign builds on the success of the original Destiny campaign which featured brightly decorated steering wheels to remind drivers what is especially important to them and what is at stake every time they get behind the wheel. “Destiny 2.0” features updated images to hammer home the message that staying focused on the road today helps drivers get where they’re going in the future. The new ads will appear in public spaces across the state, as well as on the internet and on radio. For more information on the “Destiny 2.0” campaign, visit njsaferoads.com/destiny.
The annual “U Drive. U Text. You pay. » campaign against distracted driving. During the campaign, which runs through April 30, police departments across the state are joining law enforcement nationwide in a targeted crackdown on drivers who text, talk on mobile phone or engage in similar driving that distracts their attention from the road.
It is illegal in New Jersey to drive a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic device. Violation of this law exposes motorists to fines of $200 to $400 for a first offense and could increase to $800 with the addition of three insurance points on subsequent offenses.
To help with “U Drive. U Text. You pay. » law enforcement efforts, HTS provided 202 law enforcement agencies statewide with grants totaling $1,600,800 that pay for saturation patrols during the month-long campaign.
In Essex County, the following grants were awarded to these police departments: Bloomfield, $12,250; East Orange, $7,000; Fairfield, $7,000; Glen Ridge, $7,000; Livingstone, $10,500; maple wood, $8,750; Millburn, $7,000; Montclair, $12,250; North Caldwell, $7,000; Nutley, $7,000; Verona, $7,000; and West Orange, $12,250.
Last year, the “U Drive. U Text. You pay. The campaign resulted in 8,014 citations for cellphone use/texting and 4,346 citations for reckless driving. In addition, participating police departments issued 6,151 speeding tickets and 2,944 seat belt violation tickets.