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  Director's Message I Message Archive I Biography

Director's Message

March/April 2009

HTS Director Pam Fischer Pam Fischer
  Hang Up! Just Drive.
  Thank you for visiting the Division of Highway Traffic Safety’s website. Charged with ensuring the safety of all who use our roadways, the Division sponsors public education and awareness campaigns, as well as law enforcement initiatives that deal with an array of traffic safety issues.

The Division’s most recent effort addresses one of the most dangerous driver behaviors: talking and texting while driving. Launched in conjunction with the one year anniversary of the state’s primary cell phone law on March 1, this new enforcement and education program reminds drivers to simply, “Hang Up! Just Drive.”

In New Jersey, driver inattention was a factor in more than 22,640 traffic crashes in 2007. Of those crashes, 1,866 involved hand-held cell phones and 1,421 involved talking hands-free – but still having a conversation. A driver’s attention should be focused solely on driving, and nothing else. Any phone conversation, hand-held or hands-free, is distracting and can take a driver’s mind and eyes off the road, creating a potentially dangerous situation.

According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll of New Jersey motorists, 59 percent say they never use a hand-held cell phone while driving, yet 79 percent say they see others violating the law. While the public perception is that the law is not being enforced, that’s simply not true. During the first 12 months the primary law has been in effect, police issued more than 118,000 tickets to motorists for talking on a cell phone or texting.

To help the public better understand the dangers associated with cell phone use and driving and to enhance local police department efforts to enforce the law -- the Division provided grants to 18 law enforcement agencies. From March 2 - 15, these police agencies positioned officers both on the street and in vehicles at various intersections in their municipalities, where they could observe drivers who were violating the cell phone law. If a violation was observed, the vehicle was pulled over and the driver issued a citation. Cell phone use by motorists was observed by the officers prior to the program and immediately following its conclusion. Statewide results will be tabulated in the coming weeks and will be used to help the Division determine whether or not the program will be continued next year in the same format, or expanded to additional municipalities.

As part of the Division’s efforts to continue educating motorists year-round about the law, posters displaying the new “Hang Up! Just Drive” message will be displayed in rest stops on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway this spring and summer. Palm cards with information on the law are also being distributed to the public through police departments and traffic safety organizations.

The Division is also reaching out to government agencies to explore options for adding signage, including video messaging signs, at major entry points to the State, to ensure that both residents and visitors to New Jersey know about the cell phone law.

We hope you find this information helpful. The Division’s web site has a wealth of information on a wide array of traffic safety issues. Be sure to visit our site often since new information is added regularly, and feel free to download the educational materials. Enjoy the beginning of spring, and the warmer weather. Stay safe both on and off the road, and always remember to buckle-up, every ride.

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