New Jersey drivers continue to operate their vehicles while distracted despite growing efforts to crack down on distracted driving and educate the public about its dangers. One study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that from 2014 to 2018, rates of distracted driving remained roughly the same. However, researchers also documented that the types of distraction have changed over time, becoming even more dangerous. The study compared the results of observational surveys of drivers in 2014 and 2018, measuring behavior while driving and while stopped at red lights.
The nonprofit agency funded by the insurance industry found that drivers are less likely to engage in voice conversations on a handheld cellphone while driving than in the past. However, they are also 57 percent more likely to use their mobile devices to send text messages or surf the internet. This change reflects an overall difference in how people use their phones, but it can also pose a greater threat. Driving while talking on a handheld phone is dangerous, and drivers’ eyes often shift to the center of the road. However, driving while manipulating a phone by hand, including typing and texting, increases the risk of fatal car accidents by 66 percent.
In 2017 alone, over 800 people were killed in crashes linked to texting while driving. When drivers use their hands to interact with a phone, they not only take their attention from the road ahead but also remove their eyes from the road and their hands from the wheel.
The consequences for others on the road can be devastating, including catastrophic injuries and permanent disabilities. People who have been injured in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted or negligent drivers may want to work with a personal injury lawyer to seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages and other damages.