Distracted driving is a plague on America’s roads. In addition to the things that have distracted drivers for decades (passengers, eating, drinking, radios, etc.) now smartphones and GPS devices are grabbing our attention away from the road. April is Distracted Driving Awareness month and it’s a good time to take stock of how we drive in order to avoid injuring or killing ourselves or others because we’re simply not paying attention to what’s going on when we drive.

According to the State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, driver inattention was a major contributing factor in nearly 800,000 motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey from 2010 to 2014; and across the country, 3,179 were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2014 alone.

This month law enforcement throughout the state will be using both traditional and innovative strategies to discourage motorists from texting and driving. These efforts are part of a national U Drive U Text U Pay campaign combining anti-texting enforcement with advertising and media outreach informing the public about laws against distracted driving and the consequences of breaking them.

New Jersey residents may see roving police patrols, spotters on highway overpasses and stationary police vehicles prominently placed at strategic locations as part of the campaign. The goal is to change driver behavior, as drunk driving and seatbelt use campaigns have successfully done in the past.

Distracted driving isn’t just texting or talking on your phone. It’s any activity that could divert your attention away from the primary task of driving, such as:

  • Eating or drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, MP3 player or climate controls.

Text messaging can be the most dangerous distraction because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention from the driver. by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports these facts concerning distracted driving:

  • During any given daylight moment in the U.S., about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.
  • The average time your eyes are focused on your phone and off the road while texting is about five seconds. If you’re traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field.
  • 10% of drivers ages 15 to 19 involved in fatal crashes were reported to be distracted at the time of the accident. Those in this age group have the largest proportion of drivers distracted at the time of the crashes.
  • 23% of drivers in all fatal crashes are drivers in their 20’s , but this age group accounts for 27% of distracted drivers and 38% of the distracted drivers using cell phones before fatal crashes.
  • Erie Insurance conducted a survey of distracted driving in 2015 and found that drivers engage in all sorts of acts behind the wheel in addition to driving, including brushing their teeth and changing clothes. A third of drivers responding to the survey admitted to texting while driving and three-quarters reported they’ve seen others do it.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident involving a distracted driver, schedule a free consultation with our office by calling us at (973) 358-6134 or by using our online quick connect form. Statutes of limitations apply, so contact us as soon as possible so you can learn about your legal rights and take action to protect your interests.