Police on the Lookout for Texting Drivers

Most if not all of the police departments in Southern Ocean County will be cracking down on distracted drivers during April as part of New Jersey’s “Udrive, Utext, Upay” enforcement campaign.

Through April 21, the high-visibility law enforcement initiative will target motorists who engage in dangerous distracted driving behaviors such as talking on hand-held cell phones and sending text messages while driving. The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The New Jersey campaign is modeled after similar successful high-visibility enforcement initiatives such as “Click It or Ticket” and “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

“Distracted driving is possibly the most serious safety issue on our roadways today,” said Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and an estimated 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.”

In New Jersey, driver inattention was listed as a contributing circumstance in 52 percent of the state’s crashes in 2015. Driver inattention was in fact listed as a contributing factor in crashes at a rate nine times higher than that of the next highest contributing factor, speed.

Last summer, New Jersey increased penalties for distracted driving. First offense results in a fine of between $200 and $400. A second-time offender will pay between $400 and $600. Any motorist convicted of a third offense faces fines of between $600 and $800, as well as a 90-day license suspension.

In addition, any person ticketed is required to appear in court.

—E.E.

Reposted from The Sandpaper