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Distracted Driving in New Jersey

Here's what you need to know...
  • Distracted driving is a leading cause of severe accidents in New Jersey and other states
  • Certain forms of distracted driving are penalized through traffic citations and accompanying fines
  • Drivers need to avoid any and all behaviors known to cause distracted driving
  • Purchasing a solid auto insurance policy mitigates against losses incurred by distracted driving accidents

New Jersey’s legislature and law enforcement personnel go to great lengths to ensure roads, streets, and highways are safe.

Regardless of how the infrastructure is maintained or how close an eye the state police keep on roads, negligent drivers are still capable of causing enormous harm.

The definition of a negligent driver is not limited to speeding or erratic lane changes. Someone who allows themselves to be distracted when driving presents a dangerous and unnecessary risk.

Distracted driving can lead to major accidents, which is why drivers must pay strict attention to the road at all times.

If you are concerned about encountering a distracted driver on the road and want to better insure your vehicle, enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies today!

What is distracted driving?

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Distracted driving is not some nebulous concept. In truth, the definition of distracted driving is straightforward.

Anything that takes a driver’s attention off the road is distracted driving. Texting is a typical example as is talking on the phone or even to a passenger. Fidgeting with a stereo system or a beloved pet also present potential distractions.

Really, anything diverting a driver’s concentration away from maintaining control of the vehicle is distracted driving.

And distracted driving does cause accidents. Credible sources such as Fortune Magazine have even referred to the problem as an “epidemic.”

Fortune is not exaggerating.

– History of Distracted Driving in the U.S.

In 2015, 10 percent of more than 35,000 accidents involving fatalities were connected to distracted driving. More ominously, 2015 saw a huge rise in fatalities.

The sobering figures, hopefully, may frighten people to reduce self-inflicted distractions.

Sadly, drivers can only control their actions. Worries about oncoming distracted drivers surely haunt those hoping to avoid an accident in the Garden State.

– History of Distracted Driving in New Jersey

The good news for travelers on New Jersey roads is the state is putting considerable effort into cracking down on distracted driving. A new program entails sending out warning letters to distracted drivers reported by fellow citizens.

Unfortunately, the police cannot issue a summons unless the incident is witnessed. The warning letters do build up a log of those who are notorious for driving while distracted.

Laws about Distracted Driving in New Jersey

Not every state takes distracted driving seriously enough to pass laws to discourage and penalize actions. These states should follow the lead of New Jersey.

In New Jersey, the use of a handheld device for emailing, texting, or talking is a primary traffic offense. If a police officer sees someone doing this, the officer can pull the vehicle over and issue a citation.

The penalties for violating the distracted driving provision are strict:

  • First Offense — $200-$400 fine
  • Second Offense — $400-$600 fine
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses — $600-$800 fine plus three points on the DMV record and a possible 90-day license suspension

Currently, the legislature is considering banning eating and drinking while driving in New Jersey. Doing so is not illegal right now, but the action is definitely ill-advised.

Eating and drinking behind the wheel may seem minor, but all it takes is about five seconds of distraction to be at risk for an accident.

Distracted driving presents the risk of causing harm to oneself or others. No matter what causes the distraction, the activity is not a good thing to engage in. The “simple act” of eating and drinking is not excluded.

The Impact of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous because no one knows what can happen in an accident. Minor fender benders occur and may be easy to resolve.

As already noted, distracted driving could lead to serious injuries or even death. A driver is risking their life along with the lives of passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers.

– What makes distracted driving so dangerous?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) once conducted a study and revealed well over 380,000 distracted driver-related accidents occurred in 2011. No real surprises here.

Research shows texting and talking on a cell phone both dramatically increase the risk of an accident.

All these sobering facts lead to a conclusion — no driver should be on the road in New Jersey or anywhere else without adequate insurance in place.

One brief glance away from the road could mean a major accident. And it bears repeating no control exists over the other drivers and their habits.

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Always review a decent number of insurance quotes from top providers to be sure the best amount of insurance coverage is in place. Never become complacent with a current policy. Steps should be taken every six months to review three or four new quotes.

Remember, distracted driving is the number one cause of fatal car crashes.

Maxing out liability insurance to deal with a potential wrongful death claim might be advised. Procuring an umbrella policy for even more coverage could be a good move, too.

Purchasing significant coverage under personal injury protection (PIP) may be with the extra investment.

– New Jersey is Cracking Down on Distracted Driving

Since New Jersey is a no-fault state, personal injury protection is mandatory. It is possible to file a claim with one’s own insurance company in the event of an accident. Receiving settlement for injuries or property damage might end up being a lot less stressful this way.

Even though the police in New Jersey are cracking down on distracted driving, they cannot stop distracted driving. Drivers need to keep this in mind when looking over insurance policies.

Collision coverage is also worth investing in to protect damage to a vehicle. A distracted driver could damage their own car by driving it into their own property.

$1,200 worth of body work can be reduced to $700 after paying the $500 deductible on a collision claim. Maybe the insurance company will pay for a rental car while the vehicle is in the shop.

Take saving money as a further endorsement for performing comparison shopping. The biggest endorsement, however, goes towards taking the necessary steps to prevent becoming distracted while driving.

Ways to Avoid Distracted Driving

Drivers need to take care of themselves and anyone else who may be affected by poor driving. A little bit of effort goes a long way towards reducing the potential for any instances of distracted driving.

Here are a few solid tips on how to avoid distracted driving:

– Don’t Use a Cell Phone

Cell phones are probably the most obvious of all since the running theme so far has been to point out talking and texting cause dangerous distractions.

Don’t use the phone unless there is an absolute emergency. Even then, if possible, driving off the road and parking before making a call would be safer.

– Keeps Pets Carefully Secured

Pets should remain in carrying cases or other pet store-acquired means of keeping them in place.

A dog jumping out while traveling on the highway can lead to a massive accident. Taking this risk is not advisable even for those who own a very obedient pet.

– Program the GPS

Losing one’s bearings or making a wrong turn can lead to an accident.

Few think of being lost as a form of distraction, but it certainly is.

Program a GPS long in advance of driving away. Don’t fumble with the GPS while in route. This advice would be no different than messing around texting.

– Stay Calm

Avoid getting flustered on the road; it embraces distractions.

Becoming angry, annoyed, or discontent behind the wheel means the mind is focusing on something beyond what exists on the road.

The Responsible New Jersey Driver

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Accepting responsibility is the key to dealing with distracted driving. Being more responsible cannot eliminate all risks and potential disasters, but more can be gained through responsible action than without.

A responsible driver takes clear steps to reduce the chances of being distracted by not engaging in poor driving behavior.

Responsibility also extends to purchasing a strong auto insurance policy and one with the maximum amount of protections.

Looking to reduce the chances of your car becoming a victim of distracted driving? Enter your ZIP code below and start comparison shopping today for the best auto insurance coverage!

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