What's Happening in the Area

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

By Anne Vivino

Are you up for a challenge?

Distracted driving affects each and every one of us.  It’s happening everyday on our roads, it’s the person in front of you, in back of you, and to either side of you…and dare I say it? Sometimes it is YOU and even ME!

Distracted driving consists of anything that diverts your eyes, hands and your mind from the road. We are all very busy people with a lot on our plates and there will always be distractions. We CAN and we MUST, however, make an effort to reduce some of those unnecessary distractions. Texting and handheld cellphone use (both illegal in New Jersey) are two behaviors in particular that are very dangerous distractions and have accounted for 5,164 crashes in New Jersey within the past two years, according to Rutgers’ Plan4Safety data. New Jersey takes these violations very seriously, in fact, the NJ legislature passed S69, which would hike penalties for violators of the state’s hands-free cell phone/texting law. Fines for first-time violators would increase to $200-$400. Second offense in 10 years would bring a $400-$600 fine. Third and subsequent offenses within 10 years of the first would be $600-$800 plus a 90-day license suspension and 3 points against license. View the bill here.

The Challenge:

Starting April 1st (no fooling), for the entire month of April -- NO cellphone while driving (not even Bluetooth). Turn it off or on vibrate, put it inside of a zipper pouch and on the back seat. Also, it is helpful to change your voicemail to say that you are driving and will return the call when you have reached your destination. The challenge offers many rewards, like…showing your support of distracted driving awareness month, your personal safety, no fines to pay if you get pulled over by the police, and feeling relaxed while you are driving because no one is bothering you on the phone.

Now, we would not ask you to give up these two things without offering you some help! In preparation for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, one of TransOptions’ newest employees, Laura Cerutti, tested and reviewed a number of smartphone apps to help us in our plight of keeping our hands on the wheel and not on the phone.