NEW JERSEY – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS) announced the launch of a high visibility enforcement effort to mitigate the menace of distracted driving.
Between April 1 and the 30, Law enforcement officers will work together to enforce laws prohibiting texting and distracted driving.
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In observance of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, HTS also announced a new iteration of its highly successful “Memorial” public awareness campaign. The new campaign will serve as a remembrance of all the victims of distracted driving and of the roadside memorials created to honor them.
“Public safety is my number one priority, and that includes safe passage on New Jersey roadways,” Platkin said. “Our efforts to reduce distracted driving go hand in hand with the Murphy Administration’s focus on the safety and security of all New Jerseyans. Distracted driving kills – it is that simple. And the initiative announced today couples education with enforcement – educating residents about the dangers of distracted driving and stepping up our enforcement of laws that prohibit it.”
Distracted driving has long been a leading cause of crashes in New Jersey. Data shows that driver inattention accounted for 49 percent of all crashes recorded in the State from 2017 through 2021 and 915 fatalities during that period. Nearly 23 percent of crashes involving a distracted driver resulted in one or more injuries.
During the month of April, police departments in New Jersey will be participating in the annual “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” distracted driving enforcement campaign. During the campaign, law enforcement agencies in New Jersey will join their national partners in a targeted crackdown on drivers who engage in conduct that takes their focus off the road, such as texting or talking on the phone.
“There is no excuse for texting while driving; you are risking your life and the lives of others,” said NJDOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti. “Each driver has a responsibility to all users of the road system to drive safely, and we will continue to do everything in our power to educate drivers on what can happen when they choose to drive distracted.”
“During Distracted Driving Awareness month, motorists can expect to see increased police presence along New Jersey roads stopping anyone who is texting and driving,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan. “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.”
“Combatting distracted driving is always a top priority for HTS, but during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the Division has the opportunity to expand upon its critically important safety messaging and couple that with the ability to help law enforcement increase their efforts along our State’s roads,” said HTS Director Michael J. Rizol Jr.
It is illegal in New Jersey to operate a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic device. Violating this law subjects motorists to fines of $200 to $400 for a first offense which could increase to $800 with the addition of three insurance points in subsequent violations.
To assist with New Jersey’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” enforcement efforts, HTS has provided 157 law enforcement agencies throughout the State with grants totaling $1,168,230 that pay for saturation patrols during the month-long campaign.
In 2022, the distracted driving crackdown yielded more than 8,000 citations in New Jersey for cell phone use or texting, and almost 4,000 for careless driving.
Today also marks the launch of the “Memorial 2.0” public awareness campaign that builds on the success of the original Impaired Driving Memorial campaign. The campaign, which ran from November 23, 2022, through January 1, 2023, generated more than 131 million impressions and was featured on billboards throughout the State, as well as through social media, radio, and streaming audio.
The Memorial 2.0 campaign features updated images to reinforce important safety messaging regarding the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.