More tickets being issued on NJ Turnpike, Parkway
There were a total of 56,581 tickets given out on the turnpike last year, an increase from 42,328 in 2013, according to statistics from the New Jersey State Police (NJSP). Speeding tickets on the turnpike and parkway during the month of March are up a combined 38 percent from the same period last year.
The tickets are for various infractions including following too close, speeding and even DWI.
Distracted driving continues to be a problem, with 2,289 tickets issued for handheld cell phone use in 2014. In 2013, 1,413 tickets were written.
"Distracted driving is usually covered under a careless driving ticket, and careless driving did go up significantly. Moving forward, we're going to see a fairly significant uptick in the number of tickets given out for people driving while using their handheld cell phones," said Capt. Steven Jones, spokesman for the NJSP.
Jones said any kind of activity on a handheld cell phone is bad, but texting is especially dangerous. "Not only is your concentration off when you're driving, but your eyes and your hands are doing something other than driving."
Overall, Jones said distracted driving is becoming an increasing problem.
"It's becoming more and more common where someone is weaving on the highway. They kind of look like the typical drunk driving behavior, and you pull up next to them and you realize they're just texting on the phone," Jones said. "It's more common these days to find someone weaving because they're messing with the electronics in their car, than it is that they're drinking and driving at the same time."
While more tickets are being issued, the total number of fatal accidents in New Jersey has dropped.
According to Jones, there has been a 12 percent decline in fatal accidents this year compared to the same time in 2014. Statewide there have been 171 accidents so far this year versus 194 crashes for the same time last year.
So why are we seeing an increase in the number of tickets being issued?
Jones said traffic experts are always monitoring the major highways, and it's their job to ticket drivers that are a potential hazard on the roads.
"If they're seeing maybe certain violations, certain things occurring, they're going to try and jump on that almost in real time. If they see the need for more enforcement, they're going to push people for higher enforcement. They're maybe going to put more patrols on the road," Jones said.