Distracted Drivers It’s common knowledge that driving is one of the most dangerous activities we partake in on a daily basis.  Crashes are common to see on the side of a highway or road, and many of us will be involved in a major accident in our lifetime. However, there are some serious misconceptions out there about the cause of these collisions, and what we can do to prevent them from happening.

According to a new study released by the NJ state police, common crash culprits such as speeding, drug use and drunk driving are dwarfed by the number of collisions which occur due to simple driver distraction. This includes looking down to change the radio channel, checking on your kids crying in the backseat and an all too familiar issue in the past several years: cell phone use.

By the numbers: The data analyzed by the state which was recently released deals primarily with statistics from the year 2014, though it’s likely that not much has changed. The acting director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, Gary Poedubick, lamented that “being distracted has almost become a way of life for us.” Here’s what the recent statistics have found:

  • Reasons for Fatal Crashes: Driving inattention was a major factor in the 582 drivers who were involved in a fatal crash, with a stunning 190 of them reportedly having not been paying attention to the road at the time of the crash. This reached a five year high in 2014, and no signs point to that statistic going anywhere soon. Drunk driving was a close second in 174 of the cases, and 70 were as a result of speeding. This is also the fifth consecutive year in which the most amount of fatal crashes in the garden state were due to drivers’ inattention.
  • Reasons for Inattention: Currently the only recorded statistic that police track for reasons of inattentive fatal crashes is the use of a cell phone, which nationwide was responsible for 3,760 crashes during 2014. In New Jersey, most of these fatalities occurred in Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Essex Counties. There are many reasons for drivers to become distracted and engage in a collision, but cell phone use is by far the most dangerous and preventable among them.
  • Types of Deaths: There were a total of 523 fatal crashes, and over 556 people died as a result. While many of these individuals who lost their lives were other motorists or passengers, 170 were simply pedestrians and 11 were bicyclists. For accidents involving motorcycles and tractor trailers, driver inattention was again the top reason for these fatalities.
  • Where Fatalities Occur: All roads can be unsafe in different ways, but for fatal crashes, major state highways are the biggest danger to motorists. 36% of the collisions analyzed by the police occurred on state highways. Lower percentages included 30% on country roads, 16% on municipal roads, 9% on toll roads and perhaps surprisingly, just 6% on the interstate.

If you’re charged and convicted of reckless or careless driving, the penalties can be quite steep. For more information about how you can fight these charges, contact me, Leon Matchin for a free consultation today at (732) 662-7658.