distracted drivingDuring this year’s Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the State of New Jersey’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced that drivers on New Jersey state highways can now dial #77 to report distracted driving. The public hotline was originally established in 1995 to report aggressive driving, but #77 in New Jersey will now support both types of calls.

This effort is just one more way the state is bolstering its efforts to reduce distracted driving-related vehicle accidents. New Jersey law bans the use of handheld mobile phones while driving—including talking and texting. Since July 2014, New Jersey fines for talking, texting, or receiving messages on mobile devices increased to hundreds of dollars even for first time offenders. Repeat distracted driving offenses could mean up to three points on the driver’s record and a potential 90-day license suspension.

What About Other States?

New Jersey’s new #77 initiative is the first of its kind nationwide, but many hope similar programs reach other states as well. Pennsylvania, for example, does not have an equally accessible reporting program for motorists. The state does have a strict texting ban to crack down on distracted driving, and after its new laws went into effect in 2012, the number of citations has risen every year. In fact, arrests and citations related to distracted driving have increased by 52 percent since 2014. (more…)