Officials: Distracted Driving Major Problem in NJ
Driver inattention was a major contributing factor in 1.4 million crashes in New Jersey over the past decade, roughly half of the total accidents that occurred during that time.
State authorities also say more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes where driver inattention was a major contributing factor.
Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said the data released Monday shows the state has experienced a "distracted driving decade." But he says an ongoing law enforcement initiative is helping to combat the problem.
"The numbers tell the sad truth: we are in the midst of a surge in driver inattention, and crash statistics bear out that we can characterize the last 10 years simply as `New Jersey's Distracted Driving Decade,"' Hoffman said. "What is perhaps most troubling about these numbers is that the issue of distracted driving seems to be getting progressively worse. Our research indicates that while crashes and fatalities are trending downward as a whole, the number and proportion of distracted crashes are rising."
In 2004, driver inattention was cited as a major contributing circumstance in 42 percent of crashes. But that number rose over the next ten years and last year it peaked at 53 percent. Meanwhile, the proportion of distracted crashes has surged 26 percent during that same time.
Law enforcement authorities across the state are currently taking part in a crackdown on motorists who are using handheld devices while driving. They have issued roughly 3,000 summonses for cell phone and electronic device violations so far in the crackdown that started April 1 and will continue until April 21.
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