It’s safe to say that distracted driving is an epidemic. Last year, just over 600 people were killed on New Jersey roadways, and the leading culprit was distraction. Much the same can be said of roads nationwide—distracted driving is now the number one cause of roadway fatalities across the board, and the numbers aren’t going down.
Tragic as those deaths may be, there is a much larger number of people who find themselves involved in nonfatal distracted driving accidents; their injuries run the gamut from minor to severe. Thus, accident lawyers in South Jersey have their work cut out for them, but at the end of the day we’re all better off if we prevent distracted driving from happening to begin with.
Furthermore, New Jersey’s distracted driving laws are considered the country’s toughest. Let’s examine them further.
Distracted Driving Doesn’t Only Involve Phones
In many of our minds, distracted driving is synonymous with cell phone usage. While phones play a major role is tempting us to drive distractedly, the definition doesn’t end with them. These are the common forms of distraction:
- When your mind is focused on something other than the road. If you’re talking to another passenger, upset or otherwise preoccupied, you may be cognitively distracting yourself from safely driving.
- When you’re visually fixated on something other than the road. Maybe it’s a text message, what your child is doing in the backseat, the radio dial, etc.
- When your hands are on something other than the steering wheel. This could be a cheeseburger, your phone, your purse or something else.
As stated above, New Jersey maintains the nation’s toughest distracted driving laws.
- First Offense: $200 – $400
- Second Offense: $400 – $600
- Third Offense: Up to $800, three points vs. license, and a possible 90-day driver’s license suspension
New Jersey’s strictness comes out of necessity, considering our roadways see some of the highest volume of traffic in the country—as well as among the highest volume of accidents.
Do You Disagree With a Cell Phone Ticket?
If you were wrongfully given a ticket for using a cell phone while driving, follow these steps:
- Print out your bill for the cell phone in issue. You may be able to do so via your carrier’s online portal. Otherwise, call your phone company.
- If there is a call around the time of the issued ticket, you will likely not be able to get the fines dropped, as it was probably a warranted and accurate citation.
- If there is no call around the time of the ticket, bring the cell phone bill to your municipal court hearing, explain the details of your case and show the prosecutor your evidence.
- At that point, the ticket should be dropped.
- If it isn’t, ask for a postponement to hire an attorney who can assist you with your case.
At the Law Offices of Vincent J. Ciecka, P.C., we wholeheartedly believe that awareness is the key to prevention. As New Jersey car accident lawyers, we play our part by presenting seminars and lectures to high schoolers across the state, and we also have a Don’t Text Drive coordinator on staff. We look forward to continuing the spread of awareness this year.
But now, we ask you to play your part. Here are two resources that will help you better understand distracted driving in New Jersey, and the correlating laws. We encourage you to read them, and to urge your friends and family to do the same:
Safe travels in 2017!