Police in NJ crack down to make roadways safer during ‘Distracted Driving Awareness Month’

A driver caught texting or holding their phones in their hands while driving can face a $200-$400 fine for a first offense.

Kimberly Bukowiec and Matt Trapani

Mar 31, 2023, 4:36 PM

Updated 470 days ago

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April is “Distracted Driving Awareness Month,” and police departments across the state will be cracking down on people driving in unsafe manners.
“Our officers are going to be, not that we don't do this on a normal basis, but we're gonna pay extra special attention to individuals that are operating motor vehicles on our roadways,” says Marlboro Police Chief Peter J. Pezzullo.
A driver caught texting or holding their phones in their hands while driving can face a $200-$400 fine for a first offense.
“I don't force my officers to write summonses, but, whether it's a dog or child, you're taking your eyes off the roadway,” says Pezzullo.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 32,000 people were killed in distracted driving-related crashes on American roads from 2011-2020.
News 12 New Jersey went on a ride-along with Marlboro Police Officer James Caulfield to patrol for distracted drivers. Caufield says that using hands-free devices for phones is the way to go.
“Most cars nowadays have Bluetooth, which is what we highly, highly recommend using,” he says.
He says that rush hour is the worst time for distracted driving.
“Rush hour - those people are on a mission. They're traveling to home or from home to work, and there's a lot going on. Those are when you find most of your distracted drivers,” Caulfield says.
Caulfield pulled over an alleged distracted driver who ran through a red light. That driver said he did not notice.
That driver did not receive a summons since no one was hurt and it was a simple mistake. But if an officer gets into a back-and-forth with a driver who made an error, they can always go back and check the cameras in the patrol cars.
“If we have to, we can go to this as a referral,” Caufield says.
The statewide initiative to prevent distracted driving kicks off Saturday.


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