Division of Highway Traffic Safety

Director’s Message

Director’s Message

Eric Heitmann

Distracted driving is a DEADLY problem in New Jersey: From 2015-2019, 51 percent of New Jersey crashes involved a distracted driver with 23 percent of those resulting in an injury or fatality. This April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety is cracking down on distracted drivers with a public awareness campaign urging drivers to take control of their destiny by NEVER driving distracted alongside the annual “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” National Enforcement Mobilization.

Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes away from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent (at 55 mph) of driving the length of an entire football field blind. That text could cause a deadly crash, robbing you and others of your future destinies including attending college, pursuing a career, traveling to your favorite beach or mountain destination, enjoying passions such as music or photography, getting married, having a family, and enjoying retirement.

DHTS’s new Take Control of Your Destiny campaign illustrates these and other future goals you may have for yourself as a reminder to always drive with your hands on the wheel and away from phone calls and texts, food, makeup, and other distractions in your vehicle so you can drive safely into the future that awaits you. We hope you will feel inspired by the campaign’s colorful “Painted Wheels” when you see them on social media, at rest stops on New Jersey’s roadways, and in select New Jersey supermarkets and pledge to never drive distracted to ensure you stay alive to achieve your life goals. For more information and materials on the Take Control of Your Destiny campaign, we encourage you to visit: www.NJSafeRoads.com/Destiny.

In addition to the Take Control of Your Destiny awareness campaign, the Division will be providing overtime grants to 183 police agencies in the state as they crack down on distracted driving from April 1-30, 2021 by participating in the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” National Enforcement Mobilization. During this period, additional officers will be on New Jersey’s roadways ensuring drivers aren’t distracted behind the wheel. If they observe a violation, the vehicle will be stopped and the driver may be issued a citation.

2019’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay Distracted Driving Statewide Crackdown resulted in 15,105 citations for cell phone use/texting while driving and 6,286 for careless driving. In addition, participating police agencies issued 9,185 and 5,839 speeding and seat belt citations, respectively. The crackdown focused on distracted driving, but as with all statewide traffic safety initiatives, motorists were reminded of the lifesaving benefits of proper restraint usage and obeying posted speed limits. It is estimated that more than 25,000 enforcement hours were worked during the campaign, which included 89 fixed distracted driving checkpoints.

The Division’s message to drivers is that “your attention should be focused solely on driving, and nothing else.” Any phone conversation, hand-held or hands-free, is distracting and can take your attention away from the road and that is dangerous and unacceptable.

2019’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay Distracted Driving Statewide Crackdown resulted in 15,105 citations for cell phone use/texting while driving and 6,286 for careless driving. In addition, participating police agencies issued 9,185 and 5,839 speeding and seat belt citations, respectively. The crackdown focused on distracted driving, but as with all statewide traffic safety initiatives, motorists were reminded of the lifesaving benefits of proper restraint usage and obeying posted speed limits. It is estimated that more than 25,000 enforcement hours were worked during the campaign, which included 89 fixed distracted driving checkpoints.

The Division’s message to drivers is that “your attention should be focused solely on driving, and nothing else.” Any phone conversation, hand-held or hands-free, is distracting and can take your attention away from the road and that is dangerous and unacceptable.

As part of the Division’s efforts to continue educating motorists year-round about the law, posters, palm cards and other literature and materials displaying the new “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” message will be displayed in strategic locations across the State. Signs are also posted at major entry points to the State, to ensure that both residents and visitors to New Jersey know about the cell phone law. In 2021 and beyond, this Division along with our local, county, state, and federal partners will be working to create innovative and effective countermeasures to make our roadways safer.

For questions, comments, or suggestions about our Take Control of Your Destiny campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay” enforcement mobilization, distracted driving, or other traffic safety matters, I invite you to contact our office via phone (609) 633-9300 or email HTSWebInfo@njoag.gov. For any other matters, general inquiries can be directed to Citizen Services at (609) 984-5828.

You can also follow along with the NJ DHTS on social media to join the #UDriveUTextUPay, #PutItDown, and #JustDrive distracted driving conversation this month along with other traffic safety campaigns all year long:

For information on a wide array of traffic safety topics, please visit the Division’s frequently updated web site at https://www.njoag.gov/about/divisions-and-offices/division-of-highway-traffic-safety-home/.

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