Distracted Driving Simulation Urges Motorists To Put The Phone Down

BRIDGEWATER– Shoppers at the Bridgewater Commons were invited today to join Motor Vehicle Commission Chairman and Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez, Acting Director of the State Division of Highway Traffic Safety Gary Poedubicky and Senior General Manager Troy Fischer in an interactive booth to illustrate the dangers of distracted driving.

The booth, which was complete with a NJ State Police Trooper conducting simulated sobriety tests, challenged shoppers to tackle a video driving game while wearing vision impairing goggles and typing a short text message on their cell phones.

Martinez noted that while today’s demonstration was intended to be fun, driving while distracted is a serious issue and problem in this state and across the country.

“Distracted driving is a year-round problem,” said Martinez,” but when you add in all the extra things on our holiday ‘to-do’ lists, the tendency not to focus while behind the wheel increases tremendously. We are here today to remind drivers to slow down and put the phone down while driving around town this holiday season.”

“During the holiday period, we see increased traffic on the state’s roads, which means drivers need to be even more vigilant and pay close attention to the road,” said Poedubicky. “Any phone conversation, whether it’s hand-held or hands-free, is distracting and can instantly take a driver’s eyes and mind off the road.”

Martinez noted that more than 5,400 Americans die each year in car accidents caused by distracted driving. “Some were trying to eat something between meetings while others were applying makeup before getting to their offices. Some may have even had their favorite furry friend climb onto the dashboard,” said Martinez. “But most of these folks were talking or texting on their cell phones.”

Today’s event comes just days after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that texting, emailing and talking on cell phones while driving is simply too dangerous to be allowed.

Additionally, a recent study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that not only do people tend to answer the phone and keep driving, but almost half of the people polled (45 percent) hold the phone in their hand while driving. When asked how they thought their own driving changed when sending text messages, 25 percent of the respondents said the distraction made no difference in their driving yet almost all of the men and women asked (86 percent of the men and 90 percent of the women) said they felt unsafe as a passenger in a car while the driver was sending a text message or email.

In 2010, nearly one in every 100 car drivers was found at any given time to be texting, emailing, surfing the Web or using some sort of hand-held device, NHTSA said. These activities were up 50 percent from the previous year.

“At Bridgewater Commons, we see first-hand, the frantic pace that everyone keeps this time of year,” said Troy Fischer, Senior General Manager, Bridgewater Commons. “As always, the health and safety of our customers is of utmost importance to us. We are pleased to be chosen to host this very important demonstration and hope our shoppers take away valuable knowledge to use in their everyday lives.”

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