When individuals take their eyes off of the road ahead to focus their attention on something else, we call it distracted driving. A variety of actions can be considered a distraction, including changing the radio, leaning down to pick something up off the floor, eating food, putting on makeup or even turning around to scold the kids that are acting up in the back seat.
Although any of those behaviors could be considered a distraction, the primary focus of distracted driving campaigns is on those little mobile devices that seem to be in everyone’s pockets these days. To combat this problem, New Jersey lawmakers took the necessary steps to make handheld use of a mobile device illegal in the state, and this includes both texting and talking.
This legislation does more than ban the behavior. Those that are caught participating are charged with a fine. As it stands, a driver caught violating the law can be charged with a fine of at least $100. That minimum wasn’t considered to be enough, and new increases are set to take effect on July 1. The minimum fine will jump to a $200 to $400 range for a first offense. Subsequent offenses could lead to an $800 fine.
Leading up to this change is a statewide campaign to reduce distracted driving going on this month and ending on April 21. The Distracted Driving 2014 Statewide Crackdown program includes increased enforcement from at least 60 participating police departments from New Jersey and other states.
Of course, increased enforcement requires extra resources, including funds for the officers that will staff the checkpoints. This is why the Division of Highway Traffic Safety has provided a little extra funding to help cover the costs.
Fines for violators and funding for increased patrols are certainly not the only costs associated with distracted driving. The victims of this behavior are the ones that incur some of the greatest costs. An Ocean City personal injury attorney can help victims and their families obtain compensation to help pay for the medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering caused at the hands of a negligent driver.
Source: The Daily Princetonian, “News & Notes: New Jersey implements Distracted Driving Crackdown program,” Chitra Marti, April 9, 2014