As much as we don't want to admit it, everyone is guilty of distracted driving. It's SO tempting to look down at that text, and even worse reply with your fingers while you're driving. What's the harm in replying with a quick "LOL"? It'll just take a second. No one will notice, right?

Wrong.

It's easy to forget how noticeable it actually is when you text and drive. Even easier to forget how dangerous it is.

According to CarInsurance.net, texting and driving leads to about 1.6 million vehicle crashes every year. In 2019, around 422 people died in cellphone-related car accidents.

And by the way, "distracted driving" doesn't just mean texting and driving. It also includes, eating, grooming (shaving or doing makeup at the wheel), reaching for items, and road rage.

According to a High Traffic Safety study conducted last year, 1 in 5 drivers on 10 major NJ roads were driving distracted.

Which is part of the reason why NJ law enforcement agencies are beginning a month-long crackdown on distracted driving with the statewide "UText. UDrive. UPay." campaign. If you're caught with your head down, texting that new Tinder match, or telling your friend that you're ten minutes away, it's gonna cost you a pretty penny. You can be slapped with a  $200-$400 penalty, potentially getting up to $800 depending on the number of distracted driving offenses. But hey, it's better than being slapped with another vehicle because your head was down.

So put the phone down and DRIVE SAFE. If you can't reply hands-free, answer that text message later. It ain't worth it.

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