🚗 Half of NJ crashes are linked to driver inattention

🚗 Distraction isn't just an issue among teen drivers

🚗 NJ cops are using April to crack down on phone use

Police departments across New Jersey are increasing patrols this month to crack down on people who are using their phones behind the wheel.

One ticket could cost you $400.

But will that warning actually stop you from sending another text while driving?

Over a five-year period, driver inattention played a role in nearly half of all crashes recorded in New Jersey, according to the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. And in 2021, according to the latest report from the New Jersey State Police, inattention behind the wheel was a contributing factor in nearly 200 fatal crashes.

According to AAA, the number of accidents and deaths caused by distraction is likely to be grossly underreported, given the challenges for law enforcement in determining this type of cause.

Phones aren't the only distraction

"It always seems to be the other guy's problem. It's the other guy who can't multitask," Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told New Jersey 101.5. "And unfortunately, until this hits home for a person ... we're not seeing any drastic changes in behavior."

Distracted driving is not just an issue with teen drivers, Noble said. She advises parents to model good behavior and put the phone away while driving.

"Children are sponges. From the time they are in car seats, they are watching our driver behavior," Noble said.

Use of a smartphone is most frequently blamed for distraction, but advocates note that distracted driving is any activity that diverts one's attention from driving. That could include having a conversation with others in a vehicle, eating and drinking, and following a navigation system.

U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

In observance of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Division of Highway Traffic Safety has awarded grants to 157 law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey that want to step up patrols for a month-long "U Drive. U Pay. U Text." campaign.

“The reason for this increased presence is to help deter and prevent one of the greatest causes of loss of life on our roadways, distracted driving," New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Patrick Callahan said in a press release.

The crackdown in 2022 yielded more than 8,000 citations in the Garden State.

Dino Flammia is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com

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