Texting while driving remains widespread in New Jersey

Although New Jersey has banned texting while driving, a recent New Jersey auto insurance survey demonstrates that texting behind the wheel remains a widespread practice in the Garden State. Plymouth Rock Assurance released a distracted-driving study conducted in early May 2013 which found that nearly half (47 percent) of the passengers polled have asked a driver to stop texting while the car was in motion. The survey also showed that nearly a third (32 percent) attempted to alert the driver of another vehicle to stop texting.

The survey revealed that younger drivers are more likely to text while driving. Forty percent of those aged 17 to 44 responded that they have read or sent text messages while driving, while only 16 percent of those 45 or older said they had texted while driving. The insurance survey also contained the following findings:

• Nearly three in ten drivers reported they have read or sent a text message while driving in the past

• Of those admitting to have texted while driving over the past six months, 20 percent said they do so daily, while 39 percent admitted to doing so on a weekly basis

• 24 percent of those admitting to texting while driving said they have done so with children in the car

• 20 percent reported they personally know someone who has been in an accident involving the use of a mobile device

• 15 percent said they were in a near accident that involved a mobile device

New Jersey Drivers' Insurance Rates May Go Up

Insurance News Daily reports that, given the survey's findings that texting while driving remains a significant problem in New Jersey, the inherent risks in such distracted driving may cause auto insurance rates to rise, if this problem "continues or grows."

Legislature Seeks To Deter Texters Behind The Wheel

The New Jersey Legislature recently passed a bill designed to strengthen the state's existing ban on texting or making handheld cell phone calls while driving. The bill now goes to Governor Chris Christie's desk.

If signed into law by the Governor, the new bill will:

• Increase fines paid by violators

• Award three motor vehicle points for third and subsequent violations

• Allow a judge to suspend the licenses of third-time violators for up to 90 days

• Create an educational program to warn of dangers of texting and handheld cellphone use while driving

Whether these sterner measures will be adequate to stop the growing problem of distracted drivers texting behind the wheel remains unclear. New Jersey and other states may ultimately have to treat texting while driving as seriously as they have drunk driving to effectively deter this behavior.

What To Do If You Are in an Accident With a Distracted Driver

In 2011, the New Jersey State Police reported 586 fatal collisions resulting in 627 deaths. Of these fatal crashes, 178 involved "driver inattention," including texting while driving. Car accidents caused by texters and other distracted drivers can also result in permanent or other serious injuries. Where the distracted driving involves violation of the state law banning texting while driving or making handheld cell phone calls, the violation will affect the burden of proof in a negligence action. The driver's negligence in causing the car accident can be shown simply by producing proof of the violation.

If you are ever injured in a crash with a distracted or inattentive driver, you should call an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney who can obtain full and fair compensation for your injuries.