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Year One of NJ Cell/Texting Ban: 120,000 Tickets

New Jersey motorists were given about 120,000 tickets for violating the state's cell phone/texting law during the first year the law was in effect, the attorney general's office and Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced April 24. During March 2009, 14,464 cell phone tickets were issued to motorists throughout the state for violating the law.

A recent "Hang Up! Just Drive" cell phone enforcement crackdown was encouraging because the percentage of motorists who violated the law dropped from 12 percent to 6 percent in the 18 participating towns, Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer said. The number of motorists who were texting while driving in the towns decreased from 2 percent to 1 percent.

"This initiative was designed to enhance current law enforcement efforts to stop motorists from texting and talking when behind the wheel and to educate drivers about the potentially fatal consequences of unsafe driving practices," said Fischer. "In 2007, 1,866 motor vehicle crashes were caused by the use of hand-held phones, and 1,421 crashes were caused when drivers were talking hands-free. When a motorist is behind the wheel, any distraction can be deadly."

For "Hang Up, Just Drive," the division gave a $4,000 grant to each of the 18 local police departments to identify, stop, and ticket drivers they saw texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving. The crackdown took place March 2-15 and was intended to raise compliance with law, which took effect March 1, 2008. Besides writing 4,075 tickets for violations of the cell phone/texting law, the departments' officers issued 387 seat belt summonses and 185 speeding tickets, cited 27 motorists for driving while intoxicated, and made 32 drug-related arrests.

Information about the law and educational materials to increase awareness are available at www.njsaferoads.com.

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