New Jersey has always taken a tough stance toward driving while using a cell phone or texting, seeing the two activities as closely linked with car and other motor vehicle accidents. The state became one of the first to ban talking on a hand-held phone while driving, doing so in 2004. In November 2007, that law was amended to make cell phone use – unless done with a hands-free device – a “primary” offense resulting in a $100 fine. A primary offense is distinguished from a secondary offense, which is still the law in many states and allows for ticketing only if a driver is first stopped for another moving violation.
The hard line drawn in New Jersey toward texting while driving came early, with the state becoming the second state in the country – after Washington – to ban texting, from March 1, 2008. Texting is also a primary offense punishable by a $100 fine.
The mention of those stringent and uncompromising laws is both relevant and timely, given the story that recently came out of St. Charles Parish in Louisiana that highlights how dangerous a distracted driver can be. On a Saturday evening in late August, a driver there ran off a road and hit three teenage boys. She was both texting on her cell phone and speeding at the time.
Luckily, no one was killed. The boys were all injured, though, one of them with serious head injuries and another with a broken hip.
Louisiana’s texting law is similar to New Jersey’s, making the activity a primary offense. Its author, Sen. Butch Gautreaux, said that the St. Charles driver, “will probably be used as a textbook case on why not to do this. It’s against the law and people have to stop doing it.”
Related Resource: www.nola.com “Texting driver injures three St. Charles teenagers, authorities say” August 31, 2010