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Distracted Driving Awareness And Enforcement

As part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month, many police departments are stepping up efforts aimed at prevention. Information campaigns play a role in putting a stop to distracted driving, but enforcement also has a place. If drivers have no fear of being caught texting, tweeting or otherwise not paying attention, the behavior will likely continue despite growing awareness of the dangers it poses. While cell phone use is not the only form of distraction taking drivers' eyes off the road, it is one that has drawn substantial attention from lawmakers.

The fines for distracted driving might come as a surprise to many. A first offense of talking or texting on a hand-held wireless device can lead to a fine of as much as $400. A third offense can trigger an $800 fine, 3 points taken from your license and a 90-day suspension of that license. The use of a cell phone is not required to get a ticket for distracted driving, however. Police can cite drivers for careless driving if they see signs of distraction. 

The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety lists a number of distractions for drivers to avoid. Talking on a cell phone is at the top of the list, but classic distractions such as eating, talking to passengers, tending children or pets, putting on makeup and tuning the radio are also included. There is nothing special about the distraction caused by cell phones. A driver who isn't paying attention to the road is a danger to everyone, regardless of the cause of the distraction.

Source: Parsippany Patch, "N.J. Distracted Driving Crackdown In April: What Could Land You A Ticket?," by Jason Koestenblatt, 27 March 2016 

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