New Texting, Driving Law: Does Brick Agree?
Lt. Governor signs bill named for New Jersey accident victims
A 79-year old woman walking to the grocery store in her own neighborhood was killed by a driver distracted by texting.
An unborn baby and his 28 year-old mother died after a driver was texting and collided with their vehicle.
A new law named in honor of five victims would change the penalties for drivers who create serious bodily harm or resulting fatalities in car accidents involving texting while driving.
At the signing of a new bill that would allow prosecutors to charge distracted drivers with vehicular homicide or assault, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said the drivers who maimed and killed as a result of texting would previously face traffic tickets.
The new law establishes "that when a person who is behind the wheel of a car and not using a hands-free cell phone device or is texting while driving commits what is considered a reckless act empowers prosecutors to charge the offender with committing vehicular homicide or assault when such type of accident occurs from these actions," according to a press release on the new law issued Wednesday.
Throughout Ocean County, police have identified numerous accidents where the person who caused the crash had been texting at the time.
"We certainly support the law," said Brick Police Chief Nils R. Bergquist. "There is no question the proliferation of smart phones and their use while operating a motor vehicle creates substantial risk each and every time. It is my hope that the law will increase awareness and cause people to put the phone down when driving, which will certainly save lives."
Toms River Police Chief Michael Mastronardy also said that he supports the law.
"Technology can be good, it's created a lot of safety measures in cars themselves," he said. "Technology is not good when it's causing a distraction. Cell phones and other objects can distract drivers."
Mastronardy said he understands why the legislation passed.
"We see the crashes, naturally, so I understand why the legislation is in place: our mission is to save lifes. So we support it," he said.
Guadagno said that whether minor or fatal accidents come as a result of texting while driving, just as drivers shouldn't drink and drive neither should they text and drive.
“Because of the distraction of a cell phone, two people lost limbs, and three others died. Driving is a responsibility, not a right. Everyone must take that responsibility seriously. These are three cases of what heartbreak inattentive driving can cause. There is now a price to pay for such capricious acts," said Assemblymen Anthony M. Bucco, one of the sponsors of the legislation.