April is Distracted Driving Month

Put Your Phone Away or Get Ready to Pay.

Throughout the month of April, the HHPD will be out in force looking for distracted drivers as part of the U Drive. U Text. U Pay. Campaign, a high-visibility effort to enforce distracted-driving laws.

“Everyone knows texting and driving is illegal and dangerous, and everyone knows they shouldn’t be doing it—but we see it happen all the time,” said Chief Michael Colaneri.

“Beginning April 1st, you will see stepped-up law enforcement efforts. Officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is caught texting and driving. If you text and drive, you will pay.”

Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel, and distracted driving is a growing and deadly threat on our roadways. The HHPD is teaming up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make sure all motorists keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel.

Violating New Jersey’s distracted driving laws can be costly.

  • First offense, not less than $200 or more than $400
  • Second offense, not less than $400 or more than $600; and
  • Third or subsequent offense, not less than $600 or more than $800.

According to NHTSA, 3,477 people were killed and an estimated 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015. This is a 9-percent increase in fatalities as compared to the previous year.

An analysis by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety of 2009-2012 data found that while more than 80 percent of drivers believed it was completely unacceptable for a motorist to text behind the wheel, more than a third of those same drivers admitted to reading text messages while operating a passenger motor vehicle themselves.

“Do the right thing—put your phone away when you get behind the wheel. Save yourself the embarrassment and expense of getting pulled over—or more importantly, maybe save someone’s life,” Chief Colaneri said.

The HHPD and NHTSA urge you to put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. If you need to text, pull over and park your vehicle first.

Remind your family and friends to never text and drive:

  • Texting and driving is more than just personally risky. When you text and drive, you are a danger to everyone around you.
  • No one likes to be criticized by a friend for doing something wrong, but it’s even worse to get caught by law enforcement and have to pay a fine.
  • Don’t follow the pack, be a leader. When you get behind the wheel, be an example to your family and friends by putting your phone away.
  • Speak up. If your friends are texting while driving, tell them to stop. Listen to your passengers; if they catch you texting while driving and tell you to put your phone away, put it down.

Texting while driving is dangerous, and getting caught can be expensive and embarrassing. Save face, your money, and maybe save a life—your text message can wait. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

The HHPD Offers several tips on how to avoid Distracted Driving:

1. Unplug
Keep your cell phone in an accessible place but not in one where you can see it light up for every notification you receive. Your cell phone should also be on silent mode. Just because your hands aren’t on your phone doesn’t mean the distraction has been eliminated. If a phone call or text message is really important, it’s best to pull over into a safe location — preferably a parking lot — before using your phone. You can then safely return to your drive.

2. Refuel
Drowsy driving is distracted driving, so never drive when you’re too tired and focus on your health. Make sure your sleep routine isn’t affecting your morning commute. Aim to get the recommended amount of at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Don’t forget to energize with breakfast before you get in your car, so you’re not scrambling to unwrap your granola bar at a red light. Moreover, adopt a habit of drinking water regularly throughout the day. Staying hydrated helps you think with clarity, which is critical when driving.

3. Focus
Even though roadways are improving shapes and cars are becoming more high-tech, the driver remains the most important part of the driving experience. In a French university study of 1,000 drivers who were at fault in a collision, thinking about things other than driving — or “mind wandering” — was found as the main cause for nearly 50 percent of the collisions. Therefore, only drive when you’re mentally and physically fit to do so. When you’re behind the wheel, pay attention to what’s happening all around your vehicle. Frequently scanning your mirrors and watching your speed will provide you with more control over your vehicle.

4. Secure your cargo
Rustling and falling items can distract you from the road. How often have you taken your attention off the road because you heard something fall in the back seat? While you can’t prevent every distracting noise, you can prevent loose items from startling you in the event of sudden braking by securing your cargo. Also, never place smaller items on your lap or on the floor near the driver-side foot pedals — such as phones, shoes, small bags or purses.