FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Freeholder H. James Polos, Chair, Law and Public Safety Committee
Distracted Driving Enforcement and Education Campaign carried out locally as part of new
National Distracted Driving Enforcement Campaign
April 1 – April 21, 2014
APRIL 2, 2014 -- Law enforcement officers from Dunellen, East Brunswick, Edison, Metuchen, New Brunswick, North Brunswick, Sayreville, South Brunswick, Spotswood, Woodbridge, will be cracking down on distracted drivers as part of a new national distracted driving enforcement campaign.
Beginning April 1 and running through April 21, the high visibility law enforcement initiative will target motorists who engage in dangerous distracted driving behaviors such as talking on hand-held cell phones and sending text messages while driving.
The slogan of the national campaign is UDrive. UText. UPay.
State Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, Chairman of the Transportation Committee, said: “Distracted driving is a threat to public safety that must be taken seriously. Not only does it endanger the driver engaging in such behavior, it threatens the safety of passengers, pedestrians and other drivers sharing the road.”
“Distracted driving is a serious issue on our roadways,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that each year thousands of people are killed in distracted driving related crashes and nearly a half million people are injured.”
Despite the fact that using a hand-held cell phone or texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey, the practice appears to be widespread. In a 2013 survey conducted by the FDU PublicMind Poll for the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, 72 percent of respondents said they “very often” see people driving and talking on a hand-held cell phone. 40 percent of respondents said they “very often” see drivers texting.
According to Sayreville Police Chief Zebrowski; “Young drivers are at a particularly high risk for distracted driving incidents.” The Chief agrees with some researchers who believe the risk is higher because inexperienced drivers are more likely to overestimate their ability to multitask. Citing a 2009 NHTSA study, the Chief pointed out that “16 percent of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted.”
The campaign is being carried out during the month of April, which is National Distracted Driving Month. The campaign is modeled after similar successful high visibility enforcement campaigns such as Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.
“We believe that the best way to stop distracted driving is through education and proactive enforcement. This coordinated multi-agency enforcement campaign is a very effective initiative to make our roads safer for drivers and pedestrians,” said Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos, Chairperson of the County’s Public Safety and Health Committee.
“Even though the consequences of distracted driving can be devastating, many drivers still choose to ignore these important laws,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “Middlesex County is committed to providing the highest quality of life for our residents including safer roadways and we are lucky to have such outstanding partners in the community who share our goal.”
“The Woodbridge Police Department is front and center leading the effort to put an end to distracted driving – not just texting and cell phone use while driving -- but distracted driving in all forms that endangers motorists, pedestrians, and others traversing Woodbridge Township highways,” said Robert Hubner, Director, Woodbridge Police Department. “The WPD Traffic Enforcement Unit, one of the first units in the state to establish special enforcement programs, patrols and educational outreach efforts to identify and reduce instances of distracted driving, is proud to participate in the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and the Middlesex County distracted driving enforcement program as part of National Distracted Driving Month. Our goal is to raise public awareness about distracted driving and to alert Woodbridge Township motorists that the WPD TEU will be conducting special enforcement patrols and establishing high-visibility distracted driving checkpoints throughout the Township – let’s work together to keep Woodbridge roads safe for motorists and pedestrians.”
“The Woodbridge Police Department Traffic Enforcement Unit is committed to the partnership of state, county and local law enforcement and traffic safety agencies coming together to crack down on distracted driving. It is through this coordinated, statewide effort, that we will have an impact on focusing attention on the clear and present danger of distracted driving,” said Woodbridge Township Mayor John E. McCormac.