In 2010, NJ Spotlight reports cellphones contributed to 3,351 accidents in which 1,501 people were hurt and three died.
Last week, NJ Spotlight put together an interactive map that highlights the number of accidents involving cellphone usage by county from 2006 to 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
NJ Spotlight’s Colleen O’Dea found that if the data is any indication, New Jersey’s tougher cellphone law doesn’t appear to be having much effect.
Tougher cellphone laws went into effect in 2004 in New Jersey, when the state passed its first ban on using a handheld cell phone while driving. At the time, it was a secondary violation, which means drivers could only be ticketed if they were pulled over for a motor vehicle violation.
In 2006, NJ Spotlight found there were nearly 3,600 crashes linked to cellphones. In that year, lawmakers made New Jersey the fourth state in the nation in which the use of a handheld cell phone is a primary violation. The law took effect in March, 2008.
NJ Spotlight found in 2007, the last full year in which using a handheld cellphone was a secondary offense, there were 3,287 accidents statewide attributed to the device.
In 2008, the number of accidents dropped, but rose again in 2009.
How effective is the state’s handheld cellphone law? Have you noticed fewer drivers using their cellphones? Is the law alone enough? Tell us in the comments below.