Despite auto manufacturers and cellphone companies striving to make it easier for people to safely use features on their handheld devices and onboard systems without diverting their attention, distracted driving remains a problem. Along with recklessness, speeding, drivers who are under the influence and drowsiness, distraction is one of the primary causes of auto accidents with injuries and death in New Jersey and across the United States. The Garden State is high in distracted driving incidents. Research is conducted to assess the damage it can cause and why it is happening. Safety advocates, legislators and law enforcement are tasked with finding solutions. Still, it continues. With that the case, people who are concerned should know what they can do if they or a family member were injured due to a distracted driver.
Recent study highlights distracted driving problem in New Jersey
Drivers who take to the New Jersey roads should be aware of a Rowan University study that showed as many as 20% of state drivers are distracted behind the wheel. The main catalyst for distraction is a cellphone. Advocates lament the continued problem of distracted driving saying that not much has changed in the past decade in terms of drivers who are distracted. This is true even though it is known to be a cause of many accidents.
In the study and starting in 2010, there were found to have been a minimum of 500 fatal collisions with distraction being a factor. It went beyond cellphone use and counted all forms of distraction including those who were drinking, eating or changing the radio station. This was one-quarter of all fatal accidents. New Jersey was ahead of the combination reached in neighboring Pennsylvania and New York. It is now illegal to text or use a handheld device while driving in the state. New drivers, school bus drivers and drivers under 21 cannot use a device at all. Unfortunately, the behavior persists.
New Jersey plans crackdown to target distracted drivers
For the month of April, New Jersey law enforcement will be on the lookout for drivers who are distracted. Drivers will face fines if they are seen sending text messages or have a device in their hand while driving. The fines will range from $200 to $400 if it is a first offense and worsen with subsequent offenses. There might also be points on the driver’s license. The Division of Highway Safety reported similar findings as the Rowan University study, going so far as to say that around half the accidents in the state in 2019 were related to distraction. Because New Jersey is so large and has so many well-used highways, researchers focused on the number of drivers who are distracted on these roads. Ten significant roadways had 20% of drivers who were distracted.
After an auto accident, knowing if distraction played a role is crucial
Anyone can be in this kind of accident if they are driving for an errand, going back and forth to work, taking a child to school, heading out for a leisure activity. Bicyclists and pedestrians are especially vulnerable to distracted drivers. Often, the key to assessing the wisest option is having experienced assistance.
That assistance must be attentive, compassionate and know how to pursue a case to reach a positive result. That will include factoring medical costs, calculating lost time on the job, assessing emotional problems that come from the accident and more. There are telltale signs to look for with a distracted driving auto accident and evidence that a driver might not have been paying attention to the road at the time of the collision. For people who have been harmed or lost a loved one, it is useful to be fully prepared and to have extensive assistance to decide on a path forward.