Number of the Day: 3,557

October 13, 2010 | Number of The Day

Driving while using a mobile phone was responsible for 3,557 New Jersey car crashes in 2009 — about 11 percent of all accidents, according to the New Jersey Department of Transportation statistics.

A total of 1,807 accidents occurred while drivers were holding their phones. No statistics were kept as to whether they were talking or texting at the time. Handheld accidents accounted for 759 injuries, including eight fatalities. Hands-free accidents were almost as serious, with 1,750 total crashes. More people were injured (804) but there were only two fatalities.

The number of mobile phone-related crashes jumped dramatically in 2006, which was the first year the state started identifying handheld versus hands-free collisions. It’s unclear whether the 700+ percent increase was due to a different way of keeping statistics or whether there really was a sudden surge in cellphone-related accidents. Since 2006, however, the rate has been relatively steady.