Roselle Park Police Department (RPPD) – as well as other police departments throughout the state and nation – will take part in the National Distracted Driving Awareness Month initiative to crack down on distracted drivers, particularly those who text while driving, starting April 1, 2014.
In New Jersey, it is against the law to talk using a handheld cell phone while driving or to text while driving. The law outlined below places the following restrictions:
- Handheld ban for all drivers
- Ban on texting for all drivers
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers
- Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (those under the age of 21 with a GDL or a provisional license)
The penalty is currently $130 in Roselle Park for a first offense but a law signed by NJ Governor Chris Christie last year and set to take effect on July 1, 2014 will increase fines and penalties for first, second, and subsequent convictions.
National Distracted Driving Awareness Month additionally wants to bring attention to other actions of distracted driving, such as:
- Eating and drinking
- Reading (including maps)
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD, MP3, or other audio player
RPPD Police Chief Paul Morrison stated that as part of the daily patrol practices of the police department, RPPD periodically assigns details to focus on motorists who use cell phones while driving but during the month of April the police department will increase the enforcement concerning the use of cell phones by motorists for texting or calling.
“The use of cellular phones by motorists has become a very dangerous and deadly habit of the motoring public,” said Police Chief Morrison, “The $130.00 fine for use of a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle is a small price to pay for a motorist if, one day, that lesson saves the life of that motorist. It is my belief that if the public is made to pay a large fine for using a cellular phone while driving, they will think twice before doing it a second time and this lesson will surely save someone from serious injury or death. The $130.00 fine was not put in place to raise revenue, but rather to save lives.”
The “U DRIVE. U TEXT. U PAY.” awareness and enforcement campaign will begin on April 1st and run through until April 30th.