February 2021 - Stuck in Traffic? Don't Reach for That Phone
An advantage of cell phone technology is its ability to keep you always connected. That's also a drawback, not to mention a serious safety hazard, especially when it comes to handheld phones and traveling.
According to the latest statistics available from the NJ Department of Transportation, more than 1,370 accidents in 2018 were attributed to cell phone use. Distracted driving has been cited as the number one cause of New Jersey's fatal accidents since 2011.
New Jersey allows the use of hands-free or Bluetooth devices but banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving in 2008. Since then, efforts to curb this distracting behavior have continued with the latest being a proposed bill that would ban talking and texting on a handheld cell phone even while stuck in traffic or at a red light. Introduced to the state legislature last February, this bill received unanimous approval of the NJ Transportation Committee in early December.
The bill proposes serious consequences for violations:
- $200 to $400 fine for the first offense,
- $400 to $600 fine for the second offense,
- $800 fine plus possible license suspension for up to three months for the third offense.
The tasks involved with answering a call or text are said to increase a driver's risk of getting into an accident threefold. Texting takes a driver's eyes off the road for about 4.6 seconds on average. When moving at 55 mph, a car can travel the length of a football field in that time - a significant distance when doing it blindly.
Still drivers continue to use handheld cell phones in large numbers; at any given moment during the day, some 416,000 drivers in the US can be found on their handheld cell phones.
Before you pick up your cellphone to answer a call or send that text while driving, pull safely off the road. It will increase the chances you'll be around to receive many more messages in the future.