Crackdown proposed on distracted driving in NJ, even drinking coffee behind wheel

Anthony Johnson Image
Friday, August 5, 2016
Proposed crackdown on distracted driving in NJ
Anthony Johnson reports on a proposed new measure to cut down on distracted driving in New Jersey.

OLD BRIDGE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Many of us drink a cup of coffee on the way to work or chow down on some food while driving.

But in New Jersey that could soon land you a ticket, or stiff fines.

A controversial new bill, calling for hefty fines and even a driver's license suspension, is making its way through the legislature.

Many are wondering, does this distracted driving bill go too far?

However, while many are harping on the possibility that motorists would be pulled over simply for drinking coffee, the evidence strongly suggests something needs to be done to drastically reduce distracted driving.

According to the latest figures from the federal government, in 2014 there were some 400,000 accidents involving distracted drivers, and 3,000 of those resulted in death.

Those numbers are shocking, and sadly most of the accidents were preventable.

"There are 3,000 people who didn't make it home for reasons that are entirely preventable," said Assemblyman John Wisniewski. "Those reasons are keeping your eye on the road."

The proposed law seeks to stop motorists who like to multi-task and take their attention away from driving to do such things as text, use computers, eat or drink without paying attention to the road.

The proposed fines for violators are $200 to $400 for the first offense and $400 to $600 for a second offense.

A third offense could mean a fine of $600 to $800 and up to a 90 day license suspension, as well as motor vehicle points.

Some see the law as an overreach, but lawmakers say it's all about safety and saving lives.