April 5, 2021 | Number of The Day
People in NJ who died in accidents caused by distracted driving, 2015-2019

The average time your eyes are off the road when texting is 5 seconds; traveling at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field while blindfolded. That arresting fact is courtesy of “Take Control Of Your Destiny,” a new statewide public awareness campaign launched by Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. Its purpose? To get drivers’ minds on their driving.

It’s never a good time to text while driving, or use a hand-held phone, or do anything other than keep one’s eyes on the road. April is an especially sobering month for any of the above: In addition to the campaign, New Jersey law enforcement agencies have joined others across the country this month in a “high-visibility” effort to target drivers who text, talk on the phone or do anything that diverts their attention.

Distracted driving is blamed for more than a quarter of the fatal crashes in New Jersey from 2015 through 2019, according to New Jersey State Police statistics, which also show that those accidents led to the death of 730 drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. During that same period, more than half of all crashes in the state — both fatal and non-fatal — are reported to have involved a distracted driver.

Some more data on driving while distracted:

  • Driving fatalities were up 6% in 2020 (from 2019) despite fewer drivers on the road;
  • 22% of all distracted driving crashes in New Jersey are related to cell phone use;
  • 49% of drivers under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving;
  • Distraction is a factor in 58% of moderate to severe teen auto accidents; car crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers.