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What is distracted driving?

Whenever you drive on the streets, roads and highways of New Jersey, no one needs to tell you that distracted driving is a major problem today. You see evidence of it all around you, and you may be guilty of it yourself.

The New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety defines distracted driving as engaging in any activity that takes your attention off your main job while driving: operating your vehicle in a safe manner. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 817,000 vehicle crashes occurred in New Jersey, with distracted driving being a major cause. In 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed in America in distracted driving crashes.

Distracted driving can take many forms, including the following:

  • Talking or texting on your cellphone
  • Talking with your passengers
  • Watching your navigation system or other video display
  • Changing your radio station, CD or MP3 music
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Freshening your makeup and/or combing your hair

Texting is a particularly dangerous type of distracted driving. Not only does it require you to look at your cellphone in order to read and send messages, but also to use your mind to concentrate on them and your hand(s) to send them.

Distracted driving penalties

It is illegal for you to use a hand-held phone or other messaging device while driving in New Jersey unless you are making or receiving an emergency call. If a law enforcement officer catches you using your cellphone for any other purposes, he or she can cite you for this infraction and you could face a fine of from $200 to $400 if you are convicted and this is your first offense.

The fine for conviction of a second distracted driving offense ranges from $400 to $600. A third or subsequent conviction can result in a fine of from $600 to $800, plus three points against your driver’s license and the possibility of your license being suspended for 90 days.

This information is provided for educational purposes only. It should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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