Distracted driving is deadly. That’s a fact. Based on figures reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) from 2017, distracted driving was responsible for 3,166 fatalities nationwide. In many cases, distracted driving is only slightly less dangerous than drunk driving. For example, if you’re texting while driving 55 mph, you might as well drive “the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
It’s a huge problem in New Jersey. In 2017, the Garden State saw roughly 47,021 people injured in distracted driving accidents. The New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety recently enforced a new driving protection campaign called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” Put simply, it’s illegal to drive and use any handheld device. This means that distracted drivers in the state of New Jersey can face up to $400 for a first offense, and up to $800 for subsequent offenses. That’s an expensive selfie.
It’s not just texting
Many people make the mistake of thinking distracted driving is limited to texting. This is far from the truth. Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like–any behavior that obstructs, or distracts, the driver’s attention from the road. Here are a few lesser-known behaviors:
- Eating or drinking: Many morning commuters try and save time by eating breakfast or drinking coffee on their drive to work. This is distracting behavior. Worse, it’s dangerous to you and other drivers.
- Chatting: Talking on the phone isn’t the only form of distracting communication. If you’re chatting with fellow passengers, the road does not have your full attention.
- Changing stations: Or mp3s, podcasts, anything. If you’re focused on the stereo, you’re distracted.
- Changing directions: Same goes for the hands-free GPS. If you take a wrong turn and need to readjust your route, pull over.
- Grooming: Again, some commuters try and save a few minutes by brushing their hair, applying makeup, or even shaving while driving. Don’t so any of those.
If you’re driving, the road requires your full attention. Anything else can wait. In the state of New Jersey, you could face some very hefty fines. Not to mention putting yourself, your passengers and others in danger. Keep your eyes on the road.