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Lower Township PD Cracking Down on Distracted Drivers

Distracted Driving Enforcement and Education Campaign Screen Shot 2019-03-25 at 11.23.15

UDrive. UText. UPay.

To be carried out locally from April 1 – April 21, 2019

Lower Township, NJ - Law enforcement officers from the Lower Township Police Department will be cracking down on distracted drivers during April as part of New Jersey’s UDrive. UText. UPay. high-visibility enforcement (HVE) campaign.
Beginning April 1st and running through April 21st, 2019, 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. Distracted driving has become one of the most common reasons for vehicle crashes on America’s roads, being cited as a major contributing factor in over 804,000 motor vehicle crashes in the state from 2011 to 2015. That’s why the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is teaming up with law enforcement agencies across the United States for the national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort. From April 1st - 21st, 2019, officers will be on high alert to catch distracted drivers and enforce distracted-driving laws.

 Eric Heitmann, Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, points out that New Jersey is one of only four states nationally (along with Maine, Connecticut, and Oregon) to qualify for and receive dedicated federal grant funding to combat distracted driving.  "This is clearly one of the most critical traffic safety issues that we face today,” Heitmann said. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016 alone, 3,450 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 53 percent of the state’s crashes in 2016. 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).

Distracted driving is an activity that could divert a person's attention away from the primary task of driving.  All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.  The types of distractions include:
  • Texting
  • Using a Cell phone or Smart phone
  • Eating and Drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including Maps
  • Using a Navigation System
  • Watching a Video
  • Adjusting a Radio or other Music device

But, because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. 

“We can’t say it enough: distracted driving is a life or death issue,” said Chief William Mastriana. “What people need to understand is how dangerous it is to take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and concentration off the task of driving safely. It only takes a few seconds for a child to run into the street or for you to drive through a red light or stop sign and crash, potentially killing someone or yourself. That’s why during April, you will see an increased police presence on the roadways, and anyone who is caught texting and driving, will pay.”

Violating New Jersey’s distracted driving laws can be costly. New Jersey Statute Title 39:4-97.3 Operating Motor Vehicle while Using Cell Phone; will be enforced during this campaign.  If it is your first time being convicted of distracted driving in NJ, you will be forced to pay a $200 minimum fine ($400 max. fine). For a second offense, the minimum fine doubles to $400 ($600 max. fine).  A third cell phone ticket conviction will result in:

  • 90-Day License Suspension
  • 3 Points
  • Minimum $600 Fine ($800 max. fine)

Additionally, your auto insurance carrier will usually label you as “careless driving” or a “distracted driver” and dramatically increase your premium, even for the first offense.
“Too many drivers are ignoring their responsibilities behind the wheel,” said Patrol Commander Lieutenant Donald Vanaman. “Do the right thing—put your phone away when you get behind the wheel. Save yourself the embarrassment and expense of getting pulled over on account of your cell phone—and more importantly, maybe save someone’s life.”
Remember these safety tips as you drive, and spread the message to your friends and family members:

  • If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road, it is safe to text.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
  • Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone in the trunk or back seat of the vehicle, until you arrive at your final destination.

Texting while driving is dangerous and getting caught can be expensive and embarrassing. Save face, your money, and maybe save a life—your text message can wait. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
The campaign is being carried out during the month of April, which the National Safety Council has designated as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  To combat these troubling statistics, law enforcement agencies will be using a combination of traditional and innovative strategies to crack down on motorists who text and drive.  The New Jersey campaign is modeled after similar successful high visibility enforcement programs such as Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

Lower Township Police Department
405 Breakwater Rd
Cape May, NJ 08204

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 609-886-1619

gloucestercitynews.net | March 26, 2019


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