Distracted driving is being blamed for causing the driver of a commuter bus to plow into a line of nine vehicles waiting at a traffic light in South Brunswick, authorities said Monday.

Jamal L. Penten, 30, of Lakewood surrendered to South Brunswick Police on Monday and was charged with assault by auto and distracted driving by South Brunswick Police for the incident last Thursday on Route 130 at Friendship Road and Route 32.

Accident investigators said that for at least 10 seconds prior to the crash, Penten was not looking at the highway in front of him while going 50 mph.

Investigators concluded that Penten was headed south on Route 130 in a Suburban Transit bus and became distracted for over 1,000 feet prior to the collision and failed to reduce his speed, brake, or take evasive action. Police said he impacted the first vehicle at full highway speed prior to applying his brakes. He then traveled another 200 feet, hitting the vehicles and sending them off the road

Police are not disclosing what distracted Penten. He also faces charges of reckless driving, following too closely, and obstruction of traffic. Penten posted $2,500 bail and was released pending his first court appearance, according to police.

“This crash only highlights the dangers of distracted driving. Drivers have a responsibility to focus on their driving. This crash was preventable," South Brunswick Police Chief Raymond Hayducka said.

A 35-year-old Brick man and a 61-year-old woman from Princeton were seriously injured and remain at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.

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