According to reports, the state of New Jersey has received over 1,000 phone calls reporting distracted drivers on New Jersey roads. That number of civilians reporting distracted drivers continues to rise. In April, the state expanded the #77 program, which allows motorists to report distracted drivers in an effort to prevent car accidents and fatalities.
We live, as is often said, in an age of distraction. While writing this very article, for instance, I was distracted by a text message, a phone call, and a chatty neighbor.
There is no doubt that twenty-first century technology is the main source of distraction today. This is a grave matter when it comes to driving. Hooked on texting and tweeting, today’s American causes quite a lot of trouble on the road, as we saw in our last post on texting while driving. Now we continue our theme of distracted driving.
First, wearing headphones. We notice many people walking around with head phones on. While this happy pastime of constant noise and entertainment may save them from the horrible affliction of thinking or other active mental activity, it is not to be engaged in behind the wheel in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, because it is illegal. Nor does it matter that you may not be listening to anything at the time.
However, the use of hearing aids or other devices for improving the hearing of the driver is not prohibited. Know, too, that the use of a headset in conjunction with a cellular telephone that only provides sound through one ear—for example, a blue tooth device—and allows surrounding sounds to be heard with the other ear is not illegal. And, since it serves the purpose of safety, the use of communication equipment by the driver of an emergency vehicle or by motorcycle operators complying with the statute relating to protective equipment for motorcycle riders is legal as well.
What about using a GPS? You might think that it is included under the texting ban. It is not. That ban does not include the use of a GPS device, a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle, or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus. However, distracted drivers can be cited for using a GPS on their phone.
Lastly, what about eating? It is an apt question since the only things Americans relish more than their twenty-first century gadgets is food, the more of it the better, as the now traumatic visits to the Jersey Shore demonstrate. It is not illegal to eat while driving. Still, be careful here. Eating while driving is not only imprudent, being a sure enough source of distraction, if a police officer sees you doing so, he may pull you over and issue you a ticket at his discretion, since eating may be construed as distracted driving. And sad to say for the fair sex, female charm—“Did I do something wrong, officer?” [beguiling smile and sweet eyes here]–is unlikely to get you out of that ticket in this age of progressive equality.
You may wonder how reporting distracted drivers works. If the caller observes your license plate, you will receive a letter from the state notifying the driver that their vehicles had been reported. So, if you want to make it to the shore without a problem, it’s best to avoid all of the distractions above and focus on the road.