HAMILTON — For the first time in six years, a majority of Garden State residents believe that a statewide law preventing drivers from using hand-held cell phones is making roads safer, according to a survey by AAA Clubs of New Jersey.
Last November, 50 percent of New Jersey residents agreed that the cell phone ban has made roads safer, compared to 44 percent that disagreed. In 2009, 43 percent agreed and 49 percent disagreed. In 2005, just 37 percent agreed and 58 percent disagreed.
The new findings were part of the AAA Clubs of New Jersey 2012 Report to the Legislature and were included in testimony given by AAA in support of a bill that would strengthen the penalties in accidents caused by distracted driving.
But while a majority of residents are beginning to recognize the dangers of distracted driving, they’re not all ready to put down their own cell phones, according to AAA’s biennial survey of New Jersey motorists. While 52 percent of motorists said they don’t use a cell phone or use a hands-free adapter while driving, 26 percent said they felt distracted while driving and talking on their hand-held phone. Another 20 percent said that they didn’t feel distracted.
“People continue to have a ‘do as I say not as I do attitude’ when it comes to distracted driving, but the simple fact is distracted driving is dangerous driving,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Changes to driving behavior take time which may be why 57% of those surveyed supported developing technology to limit the capabilities of cell phones in moving vehicles.
“It’s important to continue to stress the dangers of distracted driving, we know that changes to driving behavior take time and while more drivers understand the risks we need to continue to work to influence our youngest drivers, who are also most likely to be texting while driving,” Noble said.
About the poll: This is an analysis of a telephone survey conducted among 1,000 New Jersey motorists in November 2011. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 3.1% at the 95% confidence interval.