Thanks to many years of effective messaging, the dangers of drunk driving are well known. Though too many people get behind the wheel after drinking too much, for most of us it’s not socially acceptable or something we would do. Distracted driving doesn’t yet have the same stigma; while you may rarely see a driver with a beer in his hand, it’s not unusual to see someone holding a phone while driving. The fact that distracted drivers killed more people than anyone else in New Jersey in 2015 is evidence of how far we have to go.
Distracted driving was the leading cause of fatal crashes in New Jersey in 2015, according to State Police statistics, reports NJ.com, even though the number of collisions attributed to distracted driving decreased from 2014. New Jersey’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from the primary task of driving.
- In 2015 there were 522 fatal crashes, causing 562 deaths.
- There were 168 vehicle accidents related to distracted driving (including inattentive driving) in the state in 2015. In the prior year, there were 190.
- For the sixth year, distracted driving caused more fatal crashes than drivers impaired by alcohol, which was blamed for 118 crashes, killing 132; speeding caused 82 crashes.
A AAA survey of 655 New Jersey motorists done last year showed:
- 94% believe other drivers are very or somewhat distracted because of using a hand-held phone or a hands-free device to talk or text.
- 28% admitted to using a hand-held phone while driving, which is illegal in the state.
- 50% stated they used a hands-free device to make a call while driving.
The decline in distracted driving accidents may be due to increased awareness of its dangers and the heavy fines drivers might pay if they’re caught doing it. Drivers using hands-free technology may feel a false sense of security; studies have shown that though their use isn’t as physically distracting, it may be more mentally distracting. Using apps on a smartphone while driving is another danger.
The number of alcohol-related crashes in 2015 decreased by 18% over the previous year — a twenty-year low for that statistic. In addition to public awareness of the problem, the decline may be due to the fact that more people are using ride-sharing services after drinking.
Drugged driving is a problem that hasn’t gone away either, and it may be on the increase. Hazardous driving can be caused by the use of illegal or prescription drugs, whose effects may be amplified when combined with alcohol.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident caused by a distracted driver or a drunk driver, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Contact us so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your ability to seek compensation.