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Is Identifying Distracted Driving Accidents about to Become Easier in New Jersey?

If you could take a snapshot of all U.S. motorists at any moment of the day, you would find that about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other electronic devices. Even though these devices do not represent the only type of distraction faced by drivers every day, they are a growing safety concern — particularly when drivers believe they can safely take their eyes and minds away from the road to text while driving.

One of the challenges police investigating auto accidents face involves determining if a driver engaged in texting at or around the time of the collision. An individual may not freely admit to texting — but if newly proposed legislation goes through, NJ police will have the right to ask drivers to turn over their cell phones after an accident so they can determine if cell phone usage may have played a role in the collision. While giving police the right to conduct further investigation can encourage additional safety on NJ roads, many people assert that it can violate the right to privacy.

Distracted driving takes a significant toll on Americans each year. Consider some statistics provided by the U.S. Government:

  • In 2011, 3,331 people died in distracted driving-related crashes, and another 287,000 individuals suffered injuries.
  • During that year, 10 percent of all injury crashes were reported as involving distractions.
  • Any eye-hand activity conducted while driving increases the risk of accidents by 300 percent.
  • Sending or receiving text messages while driving 55 mph takes a driver’s eyes off the road long enough to equate to driving the length of a football field blind.

The proposed NJ legislation could certainly save lives by discouraging drivers from texting while driving. Plus, anyone victimized by a texting driver might appreciate the additional evidence of liability when filing an insurance claim or taking other legal action. Whatever happens with this legislation — which could raise privacy issues even if passed — an experienced NJ auto accident attorney can offer legal advice and help protect your rights.

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