Distracted Driving: It’s Not Just Talking and Texting on Your Phone

AAA’s top tips to keep drivers focused on the road during distracted driving awareness month and all year long

Automotive, Traffic Safety

Voorhees, NJ— In NJ, 98 people died in 90 distracted driving crashes in 2018, according to the latest data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  AAA believes no life is worth losing to distraction. Focused drivers save lives. AAA urges all drivers to pay attention and focus on the road during this National Distracted Driving Awareness month and all year long.

“Nationwide, nearly 3,000 people are killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, contributing to the 36,560 lives lost to crashes on U.S. roadways in 2018,” said Sophie Field. “There is no text message worth reading or sending when injuring or killing someone is the potential cost.”

Distractions include more than texting.  Anything that diverts attention from driving – eating and drinking, adjusting the navigation, or picking your next podcast, talking to other passengers, or talking or texting on the phone—can result in a fatal injury.

Despite what some drivers may think, hands-free is not risk-free. Even with your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel, you are not safe unless your mind focuses on the drive.

Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash. Here are AAA’s Top Tips to Avoid Distractions While Driving:

  • Prepare for your drive. Set vehicle systems like GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time. And please, finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
  • Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated. The consequences of alcohol-impaired driving and texting while driving could be the same: Put aside electronic distractions and never use text messaging, email, video games or internet functions, including those built into the vehicle, while driving. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features.
  • Stay focused. Do not let anything divert your attention. Be sure to actively scan the road, use your mirrors, and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists. If you have passengers, enlist their help as a “designated texter.” Ask them to answer your calls, respond to texts and program the navigation.

Violating NJ’s distracted driving laws can be costly. Know before you go. In NJ,

  • It is illegal to use a cell phone to talk or text while operating a vehicle unless the phone is in hands-free mode (there are exceptions if there is an emergency or to report a crime).
  • Devices in hands-free mode must not obstruct or interfere with safety equipment, driving, and drivers must exercise caution for it to be lawful.
  • First offence can result of a fine of $200 or more.
  • Second offence can result of a fine of $400 or more.
  • Third offence can result of a fine of $600 or more.
  • For third and subsequent offences within a 10-year period, three points will be affixed to the offender’s driving record, and a judge maybe opt to suspend the offender’s license for up to 90 days.  

For more information, visit AAA.com/dontdrivedistracted.

About AAA: AAA provides more than 61 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of 32 motor clubs and more than 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel, or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. To join, visit AAA.com.