U Drive. U Text. U Pay

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To kick off National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx today announced the Department of Transportation’s first-ever, national advertising campaign and law enforcement crackdown to combat distracted driving. As part of the effort, television, radio and digital advertisements using the phrase U Drive. U Text. U Pay. will run from April 1-21, which coincides with a nationwide law enforcement crackdown in states with distracted driving bans.

“This campaign puts distracted driving on par with our efforts to fight drunk driving or to encourage seatbelt use,” said Secretary Foxx. “Across the country, we’re putting distracted drivers on notice: If you’re caught texting while driving, the message you receive won’t be from your cell phone, but from law enforcement – U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

At today’s press conference, Secretary Foxx was joined by David Friedman, Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which estimates that 3,328 people were killed and an estimated 421,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes in 2012. The new ads unveiled today remind the public of these deadly consequences, as well as the penalties for getting caught violating the state distracted driving laws.Watch the ad on Distraction.gov.

“National campaigns like Click It or Ticket and local efforts like Phone in One Hand. Ticket in the Other. show that combining good laws with effective enforcement and strong public education campaigns can – and do – change unsafe driving behaviors,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. “We will continue to work with our federal, state, and local partners to urge drivers to put down electronic devices and focus on the task of driving.”

To prevent distracted driving, motorists are urged to:

  • Turn off electronic devices and put them out of reach before starting to drive.
  • Be good role models for young drivers and set a good example. Talk with your teens about responsible driving.
  • Speak up when you are a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are the best defense against other unsafe drivers.

Just a reminder that cellphone use is prohibited while stopped at a red light or stop sign. If you must use your cellphone, then pull to a safe area off the roadway.

Although in New Jersey the fine for such an offense will be $100, as of July 1st, the fines will change to a range of $200 to $400 for a first offense and could increase to $800 in subsequent violations

39:4-97.3. NJ Cell Phone Law

39:4-97.3 Use of wireless telephone, electronic communication device in moving vehicle; definitions; enforcement.

a. The use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving motor vehicle on a public road or highway shall be unlawful except when the telephone is a hands-free wireless telephone or the electronic communication device is used hands-free, provided that its placement does not interfere with the operation of federally required safety equipment and the operator exercises a high degree of caution in the operation of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, an “electronic communication device” shall not include an amateur radio.
b.The operator of a motor vehicle may use a hand-held wireless telephone while driving with one hand on the steering wheel only if:

  1. The operator has reason to fear for his life or safety, or believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against himself or another person; or
  2. The operator is using the telephone to report to appropriate authorities a fire, a traffic accident, a serious road hazard or medical or hazardous materials emergency, or to report the operator of another motor vehicle who is driving in a reckless, careless or otherwise unsafe manner or who appears to be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. A hand-held wireless telephone user’s telephone records or the testimony or written statements from appropriate authorities receiving such calls shall be deemed sufficient evidence of the existence of all lawful calls made under this paragraph.
    As used in this act, “hands-free wireless telephone” means a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a conversation without the use of either hand; provided, however, this definition shall not preclude the use of either hand to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the telephone.
    “Use” of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device shall include, but not be limited to, talking or listening to another person on the telephone, text messaging, or sending an electronic message via the wireless telephone or electronic communication device.

c.(Deleted by amendment).
d.A person who violates this section shall be fined $100.
e.No motor vehicle points or automobile insurance eligibility points shall be assessed for this offense.

39:4-97.4 Inapplicability of act to certain officials.
2.The prohibitions set forth in this act shall not be applicable to any of the following persons while in the actual performance of their official duties: a law enforcement officer; a member of a paid, part-paid, or volunteer fire department or company; or an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle.

Although subsection d. states that the fine for such an offense will be $100, as of July 1st, the fines will change to a range of $200 to $400 for a first offense and could increase to $800 in subsequent violations