Distracted driving car accidents kill 100s every year in New Jersey

Despite laws aimed at reducing this form of car accident, distracted driving continues to cause serious injury and death.

In recent years, one of the fastest-growing hazards on New Jersey's roads has been distracted driving. Anyone who drives regularly has probably seen motorists using their cellphone, eating, putting on makeup or trying to use their GPS device while also attempting to steer, turn, change lanes and brake.

Chatting on the phone or sending a text message while driving may seem harmless enough to the people doing it. But they may not realize the negative effect driving while distracted is having on their ability to perceive vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists and other things around them.

Numbers don't lie. According to The New Jersey Star-Ledger, nearly half of the car accidents from 2004 to 2013 -- 1.4 million out of a total of about 3 million -- were caused by distracted driving. The problem seems to be growing worse year by year. Authorities cited driver inattention as a major factor in 42 percent of crashes in 2004. By 2013, 53 percent of accidents involved a distracted driver. In other words, distracted drivers potentially caused the majority of car accidents in New Jersey that year.

Tragically, not everybody walks away from these wrecks. More than 1,600 people died in distracted driving accidents over the 10-year period ending in 2013. Many more were left with terrible, disabling injuries. These injuries may last victims the rest of their lives, affecting them in many ways.

Distracted driving is not just a problem in New Jersey, of course. In 2012, around 421,000 people were hurt in distracted driving crashes in the U.S., a federal government website reports. More than 3,300 of them died as a result.

Young drivers are especially vulnerable to this epidemic. More than a quarter of distracted motorists involved in a fatal crash were in their 20s.

Texting or talking on a handheld cellphone is against the law in New Jersey and in many other states. Nevertheless, this behavior continues. It is estimated that around 660,000 U.S. drivers are using a cellphone or other electronic device at any moment in the day. It is also important to remember that a driver can be distracted by other things, like the radio, navigation systems or talkative passengers. In addition, some research suggests that even hands-free use of a cellphone can reduce driver concentration.

No phone call or text message is worth putting other people in danger. But it is a sad fact that distracted driving will probably continue to be common, at least for a while. Victims of distracted driving may have questions about their legal rights that can be answered by an attorney with experience in personal injury law.

Keywords: car accidents, distracted driving