New Study Discusses Distracted Driving as the Leading Cause of Fatalities in New Jersey
How often does distracted driving result in serious and fatal car accidents in New Jersey? According to a recent report from NPR, a new study from the State Police indicates that “distracted driving continues to be the leading cause of fatal accidents in New Jersey [in 2018], outpacing driving while intoxicated and speeding.” Indeed, as the report underscores, “driver inattention was cited as a contributing circumstance in 146 fatal crashes.” That number is just slightly higher than the number of intoxicated driving collisions in 2018 in New Jersey (143) and the total of speeding deaths (53).
The State Police report should not surprise New Jersey residents or those who routinely drive in the state. Indeed, “2018 was the fifth straight year that distracted driving was found to be the leading factor in deadly crashes in New Jersey.” In total, 524 fatal collisions occurred in New Jersey in 2018 and 563 people sustained fatal injuries. The preliminary data for 2019 suggests that the figures are pretty similar, with a total of 525 car crashes (a slight increase from the previous year) and a total of 559 fatalities.
Distracted driving can take many different forms. Often times, distracted driving involves motorists using handheld electronic communication devices like smartphones. But distracted driving can also involve many other behaviors that take a driver’s attention away from the road. For example, if you turn around to speak to your kids riding in the backseat of the car, a distracted driving accident might happen. Similarly, if you take your hands off the wheel to reach for something in the passenger seat, you could cause a distracted driving crash. You could even be responsible for a distracted driving collision if you have another issue on your mind and simply cannot focus on the road.
Distracted driving crashes involved more than just motorists and their passengers. In 2018, a total of 53 of the deadly collisions in New Jersey involved motorcyclists, while 175 pedestrians were killed.
Getting the Facts About Distracted Driving
The Insurance Information Institute (III) and the National Safety Council (NSC) provide the following facts and figures concerning distracted driving:
- At least 2,841 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2018;
- Distracted driving often involves cell phone use, with more than 3% of drivers using handheld cell phones at any point during daylight driving hours;
- Nearly 10% of drivers are using handheld or hands-free cell phones at any given point during daylight driving hours;
- Cell phones are responsible for about 13% of all distracted driving accidents (although the number could be much higher due to the inability to definitively track distracted driving crashes caused by cell phone usage);
- Handheld cell phone use is banned in a total of 21 states and the District of Columbia;
- Text messaging while driving is banned in a total of 48 states and the District of Columbia; and
- Distracted driving crashes appear to be on a slight decline, suggesting that cell phone and texting bans in states are working to reduce accident rates.
If you or someone you love was injured in a New Jersey car accident, you should speak with an auto accident lawyer about your options for filing a claim.