Senator Madden Bill Creating Task Force on Driver Distractions Clears Senate

On February 10, the Senate voted in favor of Senator Madden’s S561, which creates the Task Force on Driver Distractions.

The charge of the thirteen-member task force will be to study and make recommendations regarding the impact of driver distractions on highway safety. Areas of study are to include, but not be limited to, the use of electronic communication devices while operating a motor vehicle.

The bill requires the task force to develop recommendations for public and private strategies to combat distracted driving and to make legislative or regulatory recommendations if appropriate. The recommendations are to include suggestions for the development of a public awareness campaign to educate the public on the risks of driver distractions and how to eliminate these risks. The task force would also be responsible for creating recommendations specifically pertaining to the reduction of motor vehicle accidents related to the use of electronic communication devices.

According to the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, driver inattention was a contributing factor in nearly 800,000 accidents in New Jersey between 2012 and 2016. Young drivers are particularly prone to distractions. Drivers in their 20s account for 23 percent of drivers in all fatal crashes. However, these drivers account for 27 percent of distracted drivers and 37 percent of the distracted drivers who were using cell phones in fatal crashes.

The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.