As many states have already acknowledged through legislation, the use of mobile phones while driving — especially texting — is incredibly dangerous. Especially for younger and inexperienced drivers, managing the tasks associated with driving a vehicle safely while talking or texting can be too much and lead to a car accident.
It is generally assumed that a handheld mobile phone is more dangerous than a hands-free one. Many laws only ban the use of handheld phones while driving. However, new statistics show that hands-free mobile phone use may be just as risky.
The latest data available in New Jersey is from 2006 to 2008, which shows that about 5,500 people were involved in crashes while driving and using handheld mobile phones. Compare that to hands-free mobile phone use, which was a factor in 4,500 accidents. Roughly 2,300 people were injured and 16 killed across the state while driving and using handheld phones, compared with 1,800 injured and 10 killed while using hands-free devices.
In New Jersey the initial ban on handheld phones went into effect in 2004. At that time, however, it was only a secondary violation, meaning a ticket could only be given if the driver had been pulled over for a primary violation like speeding. But in 2007, Gov. Jon Corzine signed legislation that allowed a motorist to be pulled over specifically for using a handheld phone while driving.
Since that time, statistics show a 10 percent decrease in accidents in which mobile phone use was a factor. In 2006, the year before the updated law took effect, 3,580 car accidents included mobile phone use. In 2008, the year after the law went into effect, that number was 3,204. Also leading to the decrease could be the financial hit violators face. Nearly everyone pulled over for talking while driving faces an automatic $100 fine. New Jersey law enforcement has written more than a quarter of a million tickets for illegal phone use since March 2008, an average of almost 10,000 tickets per month.