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NJ Launches New Effort To Combat Distracted Driving

NJ officials announce the start of the program.
Phil Gregory
/

After an 8 percent increase in fatal traffic accidents last year, New Jersey is expanding the program used to report aggressive driving so the public can alert police about distracted drivers.

State Attorney General Chris Porrino says anyone who notices a distracted driver can call #77 and report the model, make and license number of the vehicle. He hopes that will deter cellphone use and other driver distractions.

"It's frustrating I think for a civilian to watch somebody in the lane next to them engaging in a conversation or participating in some social media exchange and not to able to do anything about it. That changes today." 

Porrino says the new initiative will help raise public awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.

"Up to now at least trying to convince people that it's unsafe and that they shouldn't do it hasn't worked. So we're trying to get creative and approach it from a different angle."

Porrino says not all of those calls will result in a summons, so state police will send warning letters to vehicle owners notifying them that a first-time offense can mean a fine up to $400.

“One of our hopes is that these letters will get to parents and that parents can take action to intervene to try and stop their kids from engaging in this dangerous behavior.”

Police throughout the state are also increasing enforcement efforts this month against districted drivers.