Distracted driving is an epidemic throughout the United States. Distractions include talking and texting on a cell phone, applying makeup, and eating. These distractions take the driver’s focus away from the primary act of driving. Cell phone use – both talking and texting – is one of the biggest distractions to drivers on the road and is costing thousands of lives. In 2012, more than 3,300 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and approximately 421,000 people were injured in distraction-related crashes.
Talking and texting on a cell phone while driving is illegal in New Jersey. If a police officer sees you engaging in these activities, you can be pulled over and fined $200-$400 for your first offense. If it’s not your first time, the fine goes up: the second offense is between $400-$600 and a third offense is between $600-$800.
No text or call is worth having to pay hundreds of dollars. Even more importantly, no text or call is worth losing – or taking – a life.
Ending distracted driving once and for all may seem like a big undertaking. But what if we told you that YOU can be a part of the solution to the problem?
So, what can I do to end distracted driving?
- Vow never to text or talk while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given time there are 660,000 drivers manipulating an electronic device. By putting down the phone, there will be one fewer person on the road putting others in danger
- Set a good example. After being shuttled around by their parents for the last 16-17 years, teenagers are ready to have the freedom that comes with driving. Before you hand over the keys, make sure that you, as a parent, are setting a good driving example. If you use your cell phone while driving, your kids are more likely to pick up on the behavior when it is their turn behind the wheel. Never use your phone while driving, so your children know what a focused driver looks like. Tell your teens that distracted driving is unacceptable and if they are caught driving distracted, there will be consequences.
- Speak up! People will likely listen to the warning of a loved one. If you are aware that family members or friends are distracted drivers, tell them to put down the phone. Hearing from a loved one who is concerned about their safety could be a wake-up call to stop driving distracted.
- Teach teens to speak up, too. Teens are among the worst offenders of distracted driving. The NHTSA reports that among drivers aged 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21% were distracted by cell phones. Not only should teenagers not drive distracted, but they shouldn’t let their friends do it either. When you are a teenager, standing up to your friends can be hard. But when it comes to safety, we need to teach teens to speak up for themselves. A peer-to-peer conversation can be impactful. If someone their own age thinks distracted driving is wrong, chances are they will begin to feel the same.
Distracted driving ends with YOU! Together we can take the focus off the phone and put it back on the road!