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How big is the distracted driving problem in New Jersey?

Multi-tasking may be great in the workplace or at home but trying to multi-task while behind the wheel is a recipe for disaster. Motorists in Burlington County may think they can text while driving, eat or groom themselves while driving, or even converse with other passengers in the vehicle without compromising the safety of themselves and others. However, any of these actions can distract a driver, causing the driver to cause a car accident.

In fact, a State Police analysis found that in 2016 the leading cause of fatal car accidents in New Jersey was distracted driving. This surpasses other causes of car crashes, such as speeding and even drunk driving. In 2016, of the 570 collisions in New Jersey that resulted in fatalities, distracted driving played a role in 217 of them. 2016 saw 602 deaths due to distracted driving, 40 more deaths than took place in 2015.

Of course, not all distracted driving crashes are attributable to cellphone use. Manipulating a GPS device, tuning the radio, rubbernecking and talking to passengers are just some ways a motorist's attention can be taken off the task of driving. Even hands-free or in-dash technology can distract a motorist. One AAA study in 2017 looked at 30 different in-car systems and determined that every one of them could distract a motorist, particularly those that were difficult to use.

In the end, it is important to understand that distracted driving is negligent driving. Motorists have a duty of care to drive reasonably under the circumstances and this includes paying attention to the road and other motorists. A distracted driver is not always aware of his or her surroundings, and thus can cause a crash. Those injured in accidents caused by a distracted driver may want to determine if they can hold the distracted driver responsible for the damages they suffered.

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