There have been over 190 fatal accidents caused by distracted driving, and it was the biggest cause of fatal collisions for the state of New Jersey in 2014. New Jersey politicians are looking to make major changes to driving laws by introducing a distracted driving bill that would aim to deter people from engaging in reckless behavior while on the road. Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti and John S. Wisniewski are leading this charge and are backing a bill titled A-1908, which would make any form of distracted driving illegal.
They are aggressively advocating for this bill because of national and statewide statistics that show how serious the problem of distracted driving has become. According to information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were approximately 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries in the United States during 2014 because of distracted drivers.
New Jersey police data also shows that distracted driving has caused a lot of heartache for families across the state.
These politicians have also seen the results of a 2015 Harris Poll conducted by the Erie Insurance Group. In this poll, people were asked to be honest about the different methods of distracted driving that they had been guilty of participating in over the past year.
Over 15 percent of people admitted to combing/brushing their hair and changing clothes, while over eight percent of people admitted to brushing/flossing their teeth and putting on makeup while in the car. These statistics clearly demonstrate that we have morphed into an on-the-go society that praises multi-tasking, regardless of any consequences that may arise as a result.
Chiaravalloti and Wisniewski are modeling their distracted driving bill after a similar one in Maine which aimed to promote awareness and deter people from making the same mistake twice. The bill will give police officers the authority to issue a summons to those who are engaging in any activity that has nothing to do with driving and “interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.”
First-time offenders will pay a fine between $200 and $400, second-time offenders will pay a fine between $400 and $600, and third-time offenders will pay a fine between $600 and $800 dollars as well as a possible 90-day driver’s license suspension. 25 percent of the fines paid will go to the county, while the other 25 percent will go to the municipality where the violation occurred. The other 50 percent will be used to fund public education programs about the dangers of distracted driving.
While many drivers may find the new laws annoying and cumbersome, they will discover over time that this legislation is actually helping to keep them safe and out of harm’s way. Changing a person’s behavior is a difficult task, and it is even harder to do when an action causing a driver to be distracted lasts only a few seconds. That is why laws are necessary to give people an extra incentive to correct their behavior and keep themselves and other people safer on the road.