New apps may help alleviate New Jersey’s texting while driving problems
According to a New Jersey government report, driver distraction and inattention contributed to roughly 44 percent of New Jersey interstate highway fatalities in 2011. The report – which was compiled by the New Jersey State Police Fatal Accident Investigation Unit – is an unfortunate reminder that New Jersey motorists need to keep their eyes on the road.
These types of distracted driving accidents are exactly why New Jersey lawmakers have enacted various highway safety laws, including the texting-while-driving ban. Unfortunately, despite these laws, many New Jersey drivers continue to engage in dangerous driving habits such as texting. Almost ironically however, the root of many drivers’ distractions, namely their cellphones, may assist in curbing the texting-while-driving epidemic in the form of new smartphone apps.
New Jersey’s texting while driving laws
Under New Jersey law, a driver is not permitted to send any text message through their cellphone or other electronic communication device while behind the wheel. This particular law also bans drivers from talking on their cellphones, unless of course the driver is using the cellphone hands-free.
There are some exceptions to this law however, such as a driver can still use a hand-held cellphone if:
- They have reason to fear for their safety or life
- They believe a criminal act may be committed against them or another
- They are reporting an emergency to the appropriate authorities, such as a fire, an accident, medical emergency, serious road hazard or to report a drunk or careless driver
In addition to this particular law, all New Jersey drivers with only a learner’s permit or intermediate license are prohibited from using any cellphones while driving – both hand-held and hands-free.
Unfortunately, even though the majority of states have some type of texting ban similar to New Jersey, texting while driving continues to be a problem. For instance, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 11 percent of all drivers involved in fatal auto accidents under 20-years-old were distracted at the time of the accident.
In an effort to help, some cellphone providers are making available apps to stop texting while driving. For example, AT&T has a free app available to subscribers that will automatically silence the notification of incoming texts when activated; it can even be set to restrict phone calls. Unfortunately the app is only currently available to Android and BlackBerry users, but there is also an iPhone app currently in the works.
Other cellphone providers have similar apps, although they are not necessarily free. But, it remains to be seen whether such apps can actually help in keeping drivers’ eyes on the road and not on their phones. After all, the apps only work if the drivers activate them.
What does seem inevitable, however, is that texting-while-driving accidents will continue to occur. If you have been injured by a driver who was concentrating too much on their cellphone at the time of the accident, it is important to speak with an experienced distracted driving accident attorney to be advised of your rights and options.