A recently enacted law in New Jersey will mandate new road signs on state roadways that will inform motorists that texting while driving is prohibited in New Jersey.
Under the legislation (A3873/S2406), the commissioner of the Department of Transportation — in consultation with the director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the N.J. Department of Law and Public Safety — is required to erect appropriate signage and use variable message signs in the state.
These signs would inform motorists that the operator of a moving motor vehicle is prohibited from text messaging and sending electronic messages via a wireless telephone or electronic communication device.
The legislation has been designated as “Nikki’s Law,” in memory of Nikki Kellenyi from Washington Township, Gloucester County, N.J., who at the age of 18 tragically died in an automobile accident in 2012. The bill was signed into law earlier this month.
Implementation of the program — including details of the number of signs to be erected and the specific roadways on which signage will be placed — will be carried out by the commissioner of the Department of Transportation and director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
In December 2011, the National Transportation Safety Board called for a nationwide ban on the use of cell phones and text messaging devices while driving. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, distracted driving — including sending text messages — resulted in 16 percent of all fatal crashes (5,474 deaths) and 20 percent of the crashes that caused injury (448,000) in 2009.
Research on distracted driving shows that of those killed in distracted-driving-related crashes, the under-20 age group had the greatest proportion of distracted drivers out of all age groups.
In addition, a study by the American Journal of Public Health noted that, if not for texting while driving, the number of deaths caused by distracted driving would have dropped every year from 2002 to 2007, from 4,611 deaths nationwide in 2001 to 1,925 in 2007. Instead, the study found a 19 percent increase in auto fatalities for every 1 million additional cell phone subscribers, and an increase to 5,870 deaths caused in 2008 due to distracted driving.
Source: New Jersey Senate Democrats