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NJ Distracted Driving

Updated: May 12, 2022

Distracted Driving Overview

Distracted driving kills. The friends, family, and neighbors of the thousands of people killed nationwide each year in distracted driving crashes will tell you it is a very serious safety problem. The nearly half a million people injured each year will agree. Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on New Jersey’s roadways, being cited as a major contributing factor in nearly 800,00 motor vehicle crashes in the state from 2012 to 2016. Nationwide 3,166 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2017 alone.

Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

These types of distractions include:


-Using a cell phone or smartphone It is a primary offense for a motorist to talk or text message with a hand-held wireless telephone or electronic communication device while driving.

Use of a hand-held wireless telephone or electronic communication device includes, but is not limited to:

Talking or listening to another person.Text messaging or sending an electronic message.

The penalties associated with these infractions have been adjusted in New Jersey to the following:

First Offense: $200-$400 fine

Second Offense: $400-$600 fine*

Third & Subsequent Offenses: *

-$600-800 fine

-3 Motor Vehicle Points

-possible 90-day license suspension

*Second, third and subsequent offense penalties will be applicable only to convictions that occur within the

current ten-year period.

The operator of a motor vehicle may use a hand-held wireless telephone while driving with one hand on the steering wheel only if:

-The operator has reason to fear for his/her life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against him/herself or another person.

-The operator is using this device to report to appropriate authorities: a fire; traffic crash; serious road hazard; medical or hazardous material emergency; or another motorist who is driving in a reckless, careless or otherwise unsafe manner or who appears to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

-Eating and drinking

-Talking to passengers


-reading including maps

-Using a navigation system

-Watching a video

-Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

-BUT, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.


Driving Key Facts and Statistics

1. Nationwide, the number of people killed in distraction-affected crashes decreased from 3,450 in 2016 to 3,166 in 2017. From 2012 through 2017, nearly 20,000 people died in crashes involving a distracted driver.

2. In New Jersey, driver inattention has been a major contributing cause in nearly 800,000 motor vehicle crashes from 2012 to 2016.

3. As of December 2017, an average of 150 billion text messages were sent in the US (includes PR, the Territories, and Guam) every month.

4. Eight percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

5. Drivers in their 20s comprise 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes, but are 27 percent of the distracted drivers and 37 percent of the distracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes.

6. More than half of all adult cellphone owners have been on the giving or receiving end of a distracted walking encounter.

7. At any given daylight moment across America, approximately 416,000 drivers are using handheld cell phones.

8. Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.

9. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver's eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind.

10. Headset cell phone use is not substantially safer than hand-held use.

11. A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended multi-message text conversations while driving.

For more info, and a great analysis that discuses drunk vs. drowsy vs. distracted driving, click the link below.

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