Gloucester County College in New Jersey recently used a novel approach to teach students about the dangers of texting while driving. Instructors used a simulator, allowing the students to drive and text, and sometimes crash, in a virtual-reality setting without hurting themselves or others.
Participating in the virtual-reality scenario, the students can see exactly what can happen if they take their eyes from the road for the few seconds it may take to text. A Michigan company called PEER Awareness provided the simulator, as it has done for previous drunk driving simulations on campus.
Simulators may show younger people what the experts already know. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that “people who use a cell phone while driving are four to five times more likely to be in injury-causing traffic crashes.” Distracted driving is also a factor in 1 in 5 injuries from crashes and can be linked to nearly one-fifth of all motor vehicle deaths.
Texting while driving in New Jersey is already illegal, as is the use of any hand-held communication device while driving. New Jersey is attempting to strengthen its law somewhat by increasing the fines for these offenses.
The current law in New Jersey allows a $100 fine for a first offense, and up to $250 for subsequent offenses. The new proposed law would increase the first offense fine to $200, and a second offense would face a range of $250 to $400. A third offense or higher would cost a driver between $500 and $600.
If the price tag for being caught texting or talking while driving isn’t enough to dissuade a driver from picking up the cell phone while on the road, the third offense can also cause the driver to lose his or her license from 60 to 90 days, as well as see three penalty points placed on his or her driving record.
The goal behind the tougher fines in New Jersey is to reduce the number of accidents and injuries from accidents caused by another driver being distracted while talking or texting on the cell phone.
If you have been involved in an accident with a distracted driver, you should work with an experienced attorney who can make sure your interests are protected and determine if you are eligible to receive compensation.