The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines distracted driving as any activity that diverts your attention away from driving including but not limited to:
- Using a cell phone/smartphone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Grooming (e.g., applying makeup using the car’s sun visor mirror)
- Using a navigation system
- Adjusting the radio, CD player, MP3 player
While all these distracted driving activities are dangerous, text messaging while driving is the most dangerous distracted driving activity. The NHTSA states that, “because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction.”
By the Numbers: Some Harrowing Statistics about Texting and Driving
- While cars are currently safer and smarter than ever before, traffic deaths have been on the rise in the past two years-reversing the general trend of a decline in traffic deaths over the past decade. Why the spike in traffic deaths? A major reason is the increase of people using their smartphones will driving. 1.5 billion smartphones are sold each year and in total, there are 228 million smartphones and 264 million vehicles out there in our nation-and the two of these combined makes for a toxic mix.
- In a 2016 survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 40 percent of drivers report having read a text or email on their phones will driving and nearly a third of drivers report having typed a text or email on their phones will driving.
- Many drivers assume that taking their eyes off the road for five seconds to text is not a big deal and that if something unusual happens on the road while using the phone, that they will be able to notice and quickly reorient their eyes back on the road. These assumptions are incorrect and dangerous. If you take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds will driving 55mph, that’s as if you were driving the full length of a football field with your eyes closed. Also, “when we put down our phones and return our attention to the driving task, it can actually take almost a half a minute for our brains to reorient and resume processing what our eyes are looking at once again.”
April is National Distracted Driving Month. Also starting up again this April is the nationwide enforcement campaign known as “U Drive. U Text. U Pay”. This high-visibility enforcement campaign “combines periods of intense anti-texting enforcement coupled with advertising and media outreach to let people know about the enforcement and convince them to obey the law. U Drive. U Text. U Pay enforcement strategies include roving police patrols, spotters on highway overpasses, and stationary police vehicles prominently placed at strategic locations.”
New Jersey’s Texting while Driving Law:
All of the states except for Texas, Missouri, Arizona, and Montana ban texting while driving for all drivers.
New Jersey has some of the toughest state laws on texting while driving. New Jersey’s prohibition against texting while driving calls for “primary enforcement”. According to the New Jersey DMV, this means that
“a police officer doesn’t need to observe another violation in order to pull you over for distracted driving.” Under New Jersey’s new texting while driving law, which took effect on July 27, 2017, these are the penalties if you get caught by a police officer for texting and driving:
- 1st offense: $400 fine
- 2nd offense: $600 fine
- 3rd offense: $800 fine plus a 90-day driver’s license suspension plus points on your license
Even if you are aware of the dangers of texting while driving and the associated legal penalties, it can be difficult to resist the urge to use your smartphone to text while driving. To help resist, try putting your phone on airplane mode or do not disturb mode every time you get behind the wheel. If you have AT&T and an iPhone, try using the free AT&T Drive Mode app. This app allows you to silence incoming text message alerts and phone calls so you can stay focused while driving. The app turns on automatically when you’re driving 15MPH or more and turns off shortly after you stop. Parents with young drivers can receive a text message if the app is turned off or if other safety features are disabled. For AT&T customers, it sends an auto reply letting the sender know you’re behind the wheel.
Also, if you have the iOS 11 operating system on you iPhone, you can use the Do Not Disturb while driving feature. If you use this feature, when you are driving your iPhone will stay silent and the screen will stay dark. If someone sends you a text message, they will receive an automatic reply letting them know that you are driving.
If you’re looking for an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney or DWI/traffic defense attorney in Newark, NJ or Jersey City, NJ, look no further than the Law Office of Eric M. Mark.
To schedule your free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer or a DWI/traffic defense lawyer at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark, call 973-453-2009 or contact us online here.
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