New Jersey bills designed to improve road safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/9/2012

Two efforts introduced in recent days at the New Jersey statehouse are supposed to improve safety on the state’s roadways.

The first bill would increase the punishment for driving while talking or texting on a cell phone.

New Jersey law already allows police to pull over drivers for typing, reading or sending text messages while at the wheel. It also allows primary enforcement of the state’s ban on using any cell phone that is not a hands-free device.

In place since 2004, the law was changed to allow for primary enforcement in 2008. Violators face $100 fines.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-Mercer, wants to double the fine amount to $200. In addition, his bill calls for adding two points to offenders’ licenses.

State law now doesn’t add any points for incidents of distracted driving.

Supporters say that despite police issuing several thousand tickets per months since early 2008 for violations of the hands-free law, some drivers aren’t deterred from driving distracted.

Critics say the existing laws in New Jersey that cover careless and reckless driving are sufficient.

The bill – A3287 – is in the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

Another bill awaiting consideration in the Assembly panel would authorize driver’s licenses for young illegal immigrants granted temporary work permits by the federal government. California adopted the rule early this month.

New Jersey’s version – A3286 – would enable illegal immigrants who are under the age of 30 to take advantage of the program. To be eligible, they must have turned 16 after arriving in the country and have a clean record, as well as a high school diploma.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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