Is New Jersey tough enough on distracted driving?

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New Jersey recently looked to expand legislation to curb distracted driving as data suggests more accidents may be happening because of it.

For the past several years, people in New Jersey have been hearing more and more about distracted driving. Now, the Washington Post indicates that statistics show the number of people dying in distracted driving accidents has been rising.

How many people are dying in these accidents?

Data compared such fatalities during the months of January through June for this year, 2016, to the same period of time in 2015 and in 2014. When comparing 2016 to 2015, a nine percent increase in fatalities is noted. When comparing 2016 to 2014, the increase jumps to 20 percent.

How many vehicular deaths happen in New Jersey?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 542 total fatalities in all automobile accidents in New Jersey in 2013. That climbed the following two years to 556 in 2014 and to 562 in 2015.

The New Jersey State Police records show that between January and May of 2016, 217 people died on New Jersey roads. In those same five months the previous year, that number was 198.

How many of these deaths are attributed to driver distraction is unknown. However, it is clear that the deaths known to be caused by distraction are rising as well as the overall number of vehicular deaths at the same time.

What is the penalty for distracted driving in New Jersey?

NJ.com explains that drivers may face fines if found guilty of distracted driving. A first offense may cost up to $400, a second offense in 10 years up to $600 and a third offense in 10 years up to $800. That third offense also carries with it a license suspension period and points on a driving record.

The law clearly forbids the handheld use of any mobile device as texting is considered the most dangerous of all distracted driving activities. However, AAA suggests that even hands-free use of a phone while driving is not without its risks and should also be avoided.

Are the penalties enough?

It is interesting to compare the penalties for distracted driving to the penalties for drunk driving.

A first distracted driving offense carries a fine between $200 and $400.

The State of New Jersey reports that a first drunk driving offense without an accident and with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 or 0.09 percent has far more serious consequences. In addition to fines and multi-year surcharges, drivers may lose the right to drive for 90 days and even face up to 30 days in prison.

What should people injured in accidents do?

If an accident caused by a driver who is texting or otherwise distracted, it is important that New Jersey residents get help. In addition to seeking care for injuries, people are encouraged to talk with an attorney for help in seeking compensation. This is one more way that drivers can become educated on the true dangers of distracted driving.