(Middlesex, NJ) — For the month of April, the Middlesex Police Department will be participating in the annual New Jersey “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” Distracted Driving campaign. “Our officers will be conducting patrols to target distracted drivers who text or talk on a cell phone, or engage in similar conduct that takes their attention away from the road. Recent statistics show that one in five drivers do so distracted, contributing to nearly half of the motor vehicle crashes in New Jersey” said Chief Matthew P. Geist.
A 2021 study by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Rowan University found the following:• At any given time, more than 20% of motorists on the selected roadways were driving distracted.• Driver distraction was higher on weekdays than on weekends.• Handheld cellphones were the leading type of distraction on both weekends and weekdays.• Receiving calls, texting, eating/drinking, and grooming were higher on weekdays than on weekends.• Talking to passengers was higher on weekends than on weekdays.• Roads with traffic signals experienced more distractions from “grooming and eating/drinking” than roads without traffic signals, while the latter had a greater proportion of “talking to passengers” events.• The overall rate of distractions was greater during “peak hours” of 9AM to 12PM and 3PM to 6PM.• An increase in speed limit significantly increased distracted driving, while an increase in the number of lanes significantly decreased it.
It is illegal in New Jersey to operate a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic device. Violating this law subjects motorists to fines of $200 to $400 for a first offense and could increase to $800 with the addition of three insurance points in subsequent violations.