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Road Warrior: Distracted driving crashes, deaths called an ‘epidemic’


file photo by Boyd Loving

Road Warrior: Distracted driving crashes, deaths called an ‘epidemic’

APRIL 14, 2014, 12:47 PM    LAST UPDATED: MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2014, 7:33 PM

If you’re wondering why police at driver-inattention checkpoints are pulling over a record number of motorists as if they were stray cattle at a roundup, New Jersey’s chief law-enforcement officer offered a compelling reason Monday during a traffic-safety event in Paramus.

Driver inattention contributed to 1.4-million crashes during the 10-year period ending in 2013, said Acting Attorney-General John Hoffman outside Paramus Borough Hall as traffic whizzed by on nearby Route 17. The figure represents roughly half the road crashes reported by police during that period as captured in state Department of Transportation records.

It also includes 1,600 deaths, factors Hoffman described as an epidemic.

“We need to put an end to the epidemic… and close the book on the distracted driving decade,” Hoffman said. What troubled him most, he added, was the general perception that the epidemic “seems to be getting progressively worse.”

In 2004, distractions represented 42 percent of all road crashes, a figure that gradually rose to 53 percent last year, he added.

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