Distracted Driving

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

Other distracting activities include:

  • Using a cell phone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a PDA or navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player

20 percent  of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving (NHTSA). In 2009,  5,474 people were killed in U.S. roadways and an estimated additional 448,000  were injured in motor vehicle crashes that were reported to have involved  distracted driving (FARS and GES).  Drivers who  use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious  enough to injure themselves (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Using a cell phone while driving, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, delays a  driver’s reactions as much as having a blood alcohol concentration at the legal  limit of .08 percent (University of Utah).

New Jersey Laws

  • Handheld ban for all drivers (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary law)
  • Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary law)
  • Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary law)
  • Note: New Jersey defines  novice drivers as those under the age of 21 with a GDL or a provisional  license.

Additional Info

Is talking on a cell phone any worse than having a conversation  with someone in the car?

  • Some research findings show both activities to be equally risky,  while others show cell phone use to be more risky. A significant difference  between the two is the fact that a passenger can monitor the driving situation  along with the driver and pause for, or alert the driver to, potential hazards,  whereas a person on the other end of the phone line is unaware of the roadway  situation.

Is it safe to use hands-free (headset, speakerphone, or other  device) cell phones while driving?

  • The available research indicates that whether it is a hands-free or hand-held device, the cognitive distraction is significant enough to degrade a driver’s performance. The driver is more likely to miss key visual and audio cues needed to avoid a crash.

Nearly  5,500 people died in 2009 in crashes involving a distracted driver. Do you want  to help put an end to this type of behavior? Here’s your chance!

The U.S. Department of Transportation is leading the effort to put an end to distracted driving. We’re encouraging people like you to get involved in  spreading the word. The key message is to stop engaging in other activities, especially using your cell phone and other electronic devices, while driving.  Your primary responsibility as a driver is to operate your motor vehicle and to do so safely! Just Put It Down and concentrate on the road. Here you’ll find materials that can be used to promote this message by key groups of  people, including: community groups, schools, parents, employers, and law  enforcement. Please take a moment to look through these materials, download the files that fit your needs, and help put an end to these senseless driving acts before more people are killed or injured.

Safety for Children

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the leading cause of death and disability among children.  Each year, approximately 200,000 children in the U.S. are hospitalized due to brain injuries sustained on bicycles, skateboards, scooters and skates.  A properly worn helmet is the single most effective safety device available to reduce brain injury and death by as much as 88 percent, according to former U. S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD.  Still, estimates show that only 15 to 25 percent of children actually wear helmets, despite our state’s mandatory helmet law, which requires anyone under age 17 to wear one while biking, skating and participating in other wheeled activities.  And this figure does not include the children who are injured as the result of being unsecured passengers in motor vehicle accidents.

The Brain Injury Association of NJ (BIANJ) also has some fact sheets and prevention activities that revolve around bicycle safety and pedestrian and transportation safety (  You can access their brochures online through this link.

The “Think Positive” helmet program
is run by the Brain Injury Association of New Jersey.  This program provides positive incentives to children who are wearing helmets and abiding by traffic laws while operating a bicycle, skateboard, or scooter.  Such incentives include coupons for free pizza at local pizzerias, Best Buy gift certificates and other small token items that reinforce safe behavior.

Keeping Kids Safe on the Way to School

Cape May county article on positive ticketing:$42328

General safety for kids in and around cars.

Car seat check-up events and locations in New Jersey.
Car Seat Recommendations for Children

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), at least 72% of the 3,500 observed child vehicle safety restraints were being used incorrectly. When that happens, the risk that the child will suffer an injury or more severe injury rises even more. NHTSA estimates that a properly installed and used child safety seat lowers a child’s risk of death by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers ages 1 to 4. This is an astounding figure, and a strong argument for ensuring the proper installation of child restraints, car seats and booster seats.
TBI as a Public Health Problem in Young People
Among children and youth aged 0 to 14 years in the U.S.:
Each year traumatic brain injury results in an estimated

    • 3,000 deaths
    • 29,000 hospitalizations
    • 400,000 emergency department visits.

Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death, and traumatic brain injury is the type of injury most often associated with death.
The annual total of TBI-related deaths is

    • More than 6 times the number the number of deaths related to HIV/AIDS
    • 20 times the number of deaths from asthma
    • 38 times the number of deaths from cystic fibrosis.

Seat Belts

The law says:
New Jersey’s seat belt law was amended  on January 18, 2010 to require all adult back seat passengers 18 year of age and  older to buckle up when riding in a motor vehicle. The back seat belt requirement is a secondary offense — a police officer may only ticket the unbelted adult passenger if the driver of the vehicle has committed some other motor vehicle offense. Belt use by the driver and all other passengers, however, is a primary offense. Failure to comply with New Jersey’s seat belt law carries a fine of $25 plus court costs and fees

Back Seat Safety
On January 18, 2010 legislation was signed into law requiring all adult back seat passengers 18 years of age and older to buckle up when riding in a motor vehicle. Last year, 73% of back seat passengers killed in traffic crashes in New Jersey were unbelted. Wearing a seat belt, regardless of seating position, is the simplest way to protect yourself when riding in a motor vehicle. A seat belt increases your chances of surviving a crash by as much as 75%.

In the event of a crash, unbelted back seat passengers become bullets, putting not only themselves, but everyone in the vehicle at risk. That’s because unbelted back seat passengers continue to move at the same rate of speed as the vehicle they are riding in until they hit something — the seat back, the dashboard, the windshield, the driver or another passenger.

According to a statewide observational survey of back seat passengers conducted by the New Jersey Institute of Technology in June 2010, only 27% of adults are currently using seat belts when riding in the back seat. In addition, the number of children and teens between the ages of eight and 18 buckling up in the back seat currently stands at 37%. Meanwhile, front seat belt use is at an all-time high in our state – 93.73%.

The vehicle driver and front seat occupants as well as all passengers under 18 years of age must be properly restrained in a car or booster seat, or seat belt.

School Bus

School buses are equipped with yellow (or amber) and red flashing lights. The yellow lights go on before the bus stops and the red lights go on when the bus has stopped. This means the bus will be picking up or discharging children. Motorists may proceed only after the lights have been turned off.

The law says:
It is illegal for motorists to pass a stopped school bus when the red lights are flashing.

– Fine between $100 – $250
– Five (5) points on driving record
– Imprisonment and/or community service
– Possible license revocation

FYI – Did you know you have to stop for frozen dessert truck with its flashing red lights on.

On a two lane roadway / on multi-lane roadways:
Vehicles approaching from both directions must stop at least 25 feet away from the bus.

On a divided highway:
Vehicles approaching the us from behind must stop at least 25 feet away from the bus.

Vehicles approaching in the other direction, on the opposite side of the median, must slow to 10 miles per hour.

Divided highway is charactereized by a safety island or raised median.

Hispanic Buckle Up Toolkit
U.S Department of Transportation
NHSTA Kids and Bicycle Safety
FHWA Safety Program – A Large, Extensive Site Dedicated to Reducing Highway Fatalities. An invaluable resource for pedestrians and commuters
FHWA Highway Safety Imporvement Program
Local & Rural Road Safety
Roadway Departure Safety
Intersection Safety
Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety
Speed Management Safety
National Center for Safe Routes to School

fNHSTA Kids and Bicycle Safety

Traffic Safety Information from South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization
South Jersey Traffic Safety Alliance
Helping to “move people safely” in Atlantic, Cape May,
Cumberland and Salem Counties
(“Operation Lifesaver”, important information
about safety around trains and railroads)
United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration –
Programs & Resources
National Safety Council, educate & influence people to prevent accidental injury & death

Transportation Safety
Insitute of transportation Engineers
presnts safety tips for transportation

Four Distracted Driving Myths
When it comes to the realities surrounding distracted driving, can you separate myth from fact?
Take a look at this infographic to find out.

Traffic Safety Facts: Distracted Driving
Distracted Driving nots from 2011 gathered by the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Check out PennDOT’s Youtube page for videos about safety

Traffic Safety Facts: Pedestrians
Check out this publication on traffic safety facts for pedestrians

Pedestrian Campaign on LBI
Check out StreetSmart, New Jersey’s
pedestrian safety program.