Driving While Texting

Driving While Texting

I wasn’t talking on my cell phone, Officer. I was texting” says the driver stopped by the Police. “Why am I getting a ticket? The New Jersey Motor Vehicle statute states, “The use of a wireless telephone or electronic communication device by an operator of a moving vehicle shall be unlawful except when using a hands-free device”. This includes Driving While Texting. DWT.

A recently release study by the National Highway Safety Administration reports that possibly 50% of all crashes in the United States are caused by some form of a distraction: cell phone usage, reading while driving and IPod usage. One in four Americans admit to texting while driving.

While not condoning the practice of talking on the cell phone, studies have reported that it is less dangerous than texting- mainly because talking does not require looking at the cell phone. In contrast, when sending or reading a text message, drivers take their eyes off the road ahead to type out or view a response. A close second to dangerous texting is using an IPod- which also diverts individual’s attention from the road when selecting songs or playlists. This problem is acute with drivers aged 17-25 who feel they can multi-task driving with electronic device operation. They cannot.

Last year a freight train collided with a Metro-Link commuter train in Chatsworth California. Twenty-five people were killed and 135 were injured. The investigation revealed the freight train driver had been sending and receiving text messages while operating the train. In April of 2009, a California woman was sentenced to six years in prison because she crashed into a line of stopped cars while texting, killing one of the passengers. These are, unfortunately, just two examples from a long list of fatalities cause by texting.

Remember, in the eyes of New Jersey Motor Vehicle laws, using a cell phone without a hands free device- either talking or texting- is a violation. The Teaneck Police Department will issue you a summons for this infraction and the fine is $100.00.

As we have discussed in past articles, the Teaneck Police Department is actively enforcing cell phone usage while driving. We ask that you simply pull over to a safe location to use your electronic device. Please do not block a roadway, driveway or a pedestrian walkway when you stop. Educate the young drivers you know to the dangers of texting and driving and re-enforce that if you discover they disregarded your direction, the ramifications will be harsh. I would recommend that young drivers and parents alike view a YouTube public safety video out of the United Kingdom. It is a gruesome simulation that reminds us of what can happen when you text and drive. This video is not for the faint-hearted. Education is our first line of defense in preventing easily avoidable accidents.

The Teaneck Police Department under the command of Chief Robert A. Wilson implores the motoring public to adhere to the laws and use hands free devices when operating a vehicle. Let not a tragedy happen in Teaneck and do not use a cell phone or electronic any electronic device contrary to law. If you have any question or concerns, please feel free to contact the Community Policing Bureau at 201-837-8759 or email: mfalvey@teaneckpolice.org.