What’s the one essential on everyone’s list, while commuting to work? Coffee … maybe, tea – but either beverage may be banned in New Jersey at some point, as a distracted-driving law is in the works. Not only is coffee, tea, and even cigarettes potential aims at this law; eating food, or really any activity that is not related to the operation of the motor vehicle, or that interrupts with the safe operation of said vehicle when on a public highway or road, will be prohibited.
Seems a tad rash, but as per New Jersey’s Attorney General’s office, distracted drivers caused almost 800,000 crashes within the said state from 2010 to 2014, as well as over 3,000 fatalities in 2014 alone. As ‘texting and driving’ is the main focus of the distracted driving, the state is one within 46 in the U.S.A. that has banned texting and driving.
MSN reported that other distractions that will be included in the ban, if the bill gets passed, include: drinking and eating (as mentioned), grooming, watching videos, reading (maps are included in this outlaw), adjusting a radio or navigation system, and even chatting it up with passengers!
John Wisniewski (the bill’s co-sponsor) told a news station recently that the goal of the ban is to educate drivers, not for punishment purposes. Still, penalties around the ban seem more like punishment, then education; with the proposed penalties potentially being the country’s harshest, if they equal out to penalties involving texting currently, which is: for the first offense, a minimum fine of $200 – with the maximum fine being $800; three license point deduction and 90 days of suspension for a third or following penalty.
While banning eating and drinking may seem overly harsh to a driver who is simply trying to quench their thirst, or satisfy their hunger while in the car; it’s hard not to ignore the staggering numbers around distracted driving. On the other side of the equation, how will police offers be able to adequately enforce this? Through a Big Mac breathalyzer test or one that can detect doughnuts?
Still, coffee, tea, and food can be eaten before one takes the wheel; radios need to be adjusted prior to hitting the gas pedal; and passengers must remember to help the driver, by keeping their lips tight, and not distracting them.
While the bill hasn’t turned into a law just yet, only time will tell if the residents of New Jersey will be following a different morning routine when it comes to their daily (driving) commute into work.