In days past, drunk drivers were the most likely culprits to cause havoc on the roads. However, a new study says that drivers in New Jersey are more likely to be killed by a phone in someone’s hand than a drunk driver behind the wheel.

According to the 2013 New Jersey State Police Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash report, distracted driving has overtaken drunk driving as the leading factor in fatal road accidents in the state. Distracted driving has been a serious issue causing traffic problems since 2008, but it was not the leading cause of crashes in New Jersey until last year, despite a statewide ban on texting and handheld phone use for all drivers.

In addition to the rise of distractions, the report contained a number of other sobering facts, including:

  • Men were more likely to be killed in car accidents, especially if they were behind the wheel. Nearly 74% of drivers in fatal crashes were males.
  • Bad weather may not be to blame for causing crash deaths last year, as 82% of fatalities occurred during clear weather conditions.
  • Drivers were most likely to be injured in crashes, followed by pedestrians, then passengers in vehicles, and finally cyclists.
  • Over 60% of crashes occurred on state and county roads, while only 7% of accidents took place on interstate highways.

The good news is that there was an overall decrease in the number of crash fatalities last year. According to officials at the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, New Jerseyans boast a 93% use of seat belts—the highest percentage in the nation. However, while seat belt use can prevent fatal injuries in a crash, it is up to drivers to prevent a crash from happening in the first place.

Cell Phones Remain the #1 Driver Distraction Nationwide

The most effective way to reduce distracted-driving crashes is for drivers to stow their cell phones before getting behind the wheel. If you know someone who cannot bear to be without access to his phone while driving, send him a link to this article on Facebook or Google+ to make sure he knows the danger he may be causing for others (and himself) on the road.


Manfred Ricciardelli
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