Statewide Distracted Driving Enforcement and Awareness Campaign
Officers from the Livingston Police Department will be cracking down on distracted drivers during April as part of New Jersey’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay. enforcement campaign.
From April 1 through 30, 2021, 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.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2018 alone, 2,841 people were killed in distracted driving crashes on our nation’s roads and an estimated 400,000 people were injured. In New Jersey, driver inattention was listed as a contributing circumstance in 50 percent of the state’s crashes in 2018. Driver inattention was in fact listed as a contributing factor in crashes at a rate seven times higher than that of the next highest contributing factor (speed).
According to Police Officer Joseph Fosko, a member of the Traffic Bureau who is coordinating the Livingston campaign, “During the last five years (2016-2020), a total of 2,369 State-reportable crashes occurred within the Township. This equates to an average of 474 crashes per year. Livingston ranks 72nd when comparing total crashes occurring within the top 150 reporting State agencies. We all need to do our part to drive these numbers down and promote community awareness of the importance of putting the phone down and focusing on the task of safe driving.”
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving. Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, this is the equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
Studies have shown distraction-related crashes are under-reported. Studies have also shown tickets significantly reduce the occurrence of accidents and non-fatal injuries.
New Jersey is one of eight states nationally to receive dedicated federal funds this year to tackle the issue of driver distraction. This federal funding will be used for police overtime enforcement grants at the local level as well as a statewide multimedia public awareness campaign on this important issue.
Police Chief Gary Marshuetz echoed the efforts of his officers: “The Livingston Police Department applied for, and was awarded, these grant funds. Our officers will conduct suppression patrols within the Township, with emphasis on pedestrian zones, known bicycle travel areas, school zones, and major intersections. The objective of this highly visible, targeted-enforcement campaign is to change the behavior of, and deter others from, driving while distracted. The ultimate goal of this campaign is to reduce the total number of crashes occurring within the Township.”