Law enforcement officers across Monmouth County will be armed with an additional ticket book for the month of October in an effort to bring awareness to distracted driving and the deadly effects it can have on drivers and their families.
“There are innumerable distractions for every driver on the road from our cell phones, passengers, radios, and everything imaginable that grabs our attention inside and outside the vehicle. But we must choose to focus our attention on driving and it starts with a simple pledge to pay attention,” said Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
In order to raise the awareness of the dangers of texting or talking on a handheld device while driving on our county roadways the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, Monmouth County Association of Chiefs of Police and the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders are challenging all county residents and those who work in Monmouth County who possess a valid permit or driver’s license to “Take The Pledge” not to text or talk on a cell phone without a handheld device while driving.
For the month of October, law enforcement officers across the county will be armed with distracted driver ticket books. Anyone found driving while distracted may be issued a summons warning providing them 15 days to log on the campaign website at unpluggedandalive.com where each ticketholder will be prompted to securely include their pertinent information and to watch a video detailing the horrific effects of distracted driving.
“Distracted driving is dangerous, but that knowledge alone does not seem to deter drivers from texting and driving and from using cell phones without a hands-free device,” said Monmouth County Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Lori Linskey. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates the average time a driver’s eyes are off the road while texting is approximately five seconds. When traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field. Imagine driving the length of a football field at 55 miles per hour while wearing a blindfold.”
About nine people are killed each day in the United States in a distracted driving incident, and more than 1,150 people are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, according to the NHTSA.
“Texting from your mobile device helps keep you stay in touch with, well, everybody and everything, but it also comes with some fast and sometimes deadly consequences,” warned Aberdeen Police Chief John T. Powers, president of the Monmouth County Police Chiefs Association. “If you are texting while driving, or engaging in otherwise distracted activity behind the wheel, do yourself a favor: Put the phone down and nobody gets hurts, because texting and driving kills.”
In 2012, 171.3 billion text messages were sent in the US every month, according to CTIA—The Wireless Association. Texting has become so important in our method of communication, the average American now sends or receives more than 40 texts per day, and those in the 18-24 age group are texting more than 100 times a day, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.
“The sad part of the story is that many of those texts are either sent or received from behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, and that is a very dangerous place to be a social butterfly,” said Monmouth County First Assistant Marc C. LeMieux.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers are four times more likely to get into a serious car crash when using a hand held device while driving.
According to the NHTSA, 10 percent of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crash, and drivers in their 20s make up 27 percent of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
A study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, in cooperation with the NHTSA, and released earlier this month, found:
•· Text messaging, browsing and dialing resulted in the longest duration of drivers taking their eyes off the road.
•· Text messaging increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by two times and resulted in drivers taking their eyes off the road for an average of 23 seconds total.
•· Activities performed when completing a phone call (reaching for a phone, looking up a contact and dialing the number) increased crash risk by three times.
•· There is no direct increased crash risk from the specific act of talking on a cell phone. However, visual-manual tasks (locating the phone, looking at the phone and touching the phone) are always involved when using a hand-held cell phone. This makes the overall use of a hand-held cell phone riskier when driving.
•· Even portable hands-free and vehicle-integrated hands-free cell phone use involved visual-manual tasks at least half of the time, which is associated with a greater crash risk.
For more information about the Unplugged and Alive campaign visit unpluggedandalive.com