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NO JOKE: Latest Distracted-Driver Crackdown Has Begun

Beginning April 1, officers will target motorists who talk or text on hand-held cellphones while driving as part of a three-week crackdown aimed at reducing crashes.
Beginning April 1, officers will target motorists who talk or text on hand-held cellphones while driving as part of a three-week crackdown aimed at reducing crashes. Photo Credit: Boyd A. Loving

With driver inattention contributing to crashes in New Jersey at a rate nine times higher than speeding, local police are into another “UDrive. UText. UPay.” campaign.

Officers on Monday, April 1, began targeting motorists who talk or text on hand-held cellphones while driving as part of a three-week crackdown aimed at reducing crashes.

"This is clearly one of the most critical traffic safety issues that we face today," said Eric Heitmann, director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2016 alone, 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and an estimated 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver," he said.

In New Jersey, driver inattention was listed as a contributing circumstance in 53% of the state’s crashes in 2016.

Traffic fatalities in New Jersey rose from 562 in 2015 to 604 in 2016 -- an average of 12 deaths a week, authorities said.

Distracted driving plays an enormous role, they said. Teens were the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of fatal crashes.

"That text or phone call will never be worth losing a life over," Lyndhurst Detective Sgt. Vincent Auteri said. "That is why curbing distracted driving is high on our priority list."

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