Verona Police Crack Down On Distracted Driving

By on April 6, 2017

Police-NewLogoWhen you are driving, you should never give the roads any but your full attention. But you would be well advised to be even less distracted when you are behind the wheel in April because the Verona Police Department has joined a state-wide crackdown on distracted driving.

That means that they are going to be on the lookout for drivers who are texting, using cell phones without a hands-free connection, and more. “The reality is that if you are driving with a cup of coffee and weaving in and out of traffic, that’s distracted driving,” says Verona Police Chief Mitchell Stern. “I’ve stopped people for eating a cup of soup while driving.” Also not a good idea: Turning around to talk to your friends or children in the back seat while you are driving. “Anything that distracts can lead to careless driving,” Stern adds.

The distractions posed by texting in particular have been cited as one of the factors for an 11% increased in pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 2016. According to a survey released in March by the Governors Highway Safety Association, states reported 2,660 pedestrian fatalities during the first six months of 2016, up from 2,486 deaths for the corresponding period in 2015. There had been a 9% spike in pedestrian fatalities in 2015 from 2014. The survey says that pedestrian fatalities account for approximately 15% of all motor vehicle deaths. Pedestrian fatalities in New Jersey decreased slightly, from 77 to 71, from 2015 to 2016.

Driving distracted can also be costly. Under New Jersey statutes, the fines that can be assessed for these violations range from $85 to $290. Motorists who engage a lawyer to challenge their tickets in municipal court will incur even higher costs.

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With 30 full-time officers, the Verona Police Department now has a larger contingent of officers on duty than it has had in more than five years. They have been issuing more traffic summonses, and town officials noted in the budget introduced last month that municipal court revenues are rising from $98,000 for 2016 to an anticipated $125,000 for 2017.

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