CENTRAL JERSEY: Area police departments join forces to crack down on distracted driving

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Police departments throughout Somerset and Hunterdon Counties will spend most of April looking out for distracted drivers as part of a law enforcement campaign.

From April 1 to April 21, law enforcement officers will participate in a nationwide high visibility enforcement campaign called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” that specifically target motorists who exhibit dangerous distracted driving behaviors.

According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, distracted driving is “any activity that could divert a person’s
attention away from the primary task of driving.” Distractions like texting, using a smartphone, eating and drinking, grooming or adjusting a radio can contribute to an accident.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that nearly 3,500 people died and approximately 391,000 were injured in distracted driving accidents in 2015 alone. The NHTSA estimates that 660,000 drivers use electronic devices while driving during the day.

The state Division of Highway Traffic Safety estimates that distracted driving has been cited as a major contributing factor in more than 817,000 motor vehicle accidents from 2010 to 2014 throughout the state.

In 2015, driver inattention was listed as a contributing factor in more than 50 percent of crashes, making it nine times more likely to contribute to an accident than speed.

“Distracted driving is possibly the most serious safety issue on our roadways today,”  Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety Gary Poedubicky said.

Just like other high visibility enforcement campaigns, next month’s initiative will feature police departments using both traditional and non-conventional methods, including roving police patrols, spotters on highway overpasses and stationary police vehicles prominently placed at strategic locations.

According to the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the following law enforcement agencies will participate in the initiative: Bedminster; Bernards; Bernardsville; Bound Brook; Branchburg; Bridgewater; Clinton (Town of); Far Hills; Flemington; Franklin-H; Franklin-S; Frenchtown; Green Brook; High Bridge; Hillsborough; Manville; Montgomery; North Plainfield; Peapack Gladstone; Raritan Borough; Readington; Somerset County Sheriff’s Office; Somerville; South Bound Brook; Warren; Watchung; and West Amwell.