Distracted driving is a national problem that is reaching epidemic proportions. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities from “distraction-affected” crashes increased 8.8% to 3,477 from 3,197 in 2015 and the agency blames much of that increase on cell phone use. In addition to fatalities, distracted driving has been blamed for thousands of accidents resulting in personal injuries. Now the state of New Jersey is taking action to stop the scourge from affecting its communities. As of last April, the state relaunched an aggressive driving tip line known as #77. The line was previously dedicated exclusively to reporting aggressive driving, but it has now been rebranded to include distracted driving. Citizens viewing drivers who are driving drunk, who are tailgating, driving aggressively, texting, or otherwise distracted are encouraged to dial #77. Their call will ring directly through to a dispatcher, who quickly records details including the location of the witnessed incident, the make and model of the car, its license plate number and any other pertinent data so that police can be sent out to try to apprehend and ticket the driver. During April, which is labeled Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the state had dozens of additional enforcement details on the roads in marked and unmarked cars in order to provide added emphasis to the new program. Even if a call to the tip line doesn’t result in a ticket being issued, a warning letter will be sent to the owner of the reported vehicle, alerting them to the fact that a driver behind the wheel of their car was driving in a distracted or dangerous way, resulting in a distracted driving complaint. The letter will read, “The report alleged that the operator of your vehicle was using a hand-held cell phone to talk or text while operating a motor vehicle. Distracted driving is dangerous and ILLEGAL in the State of New Jersey.” The authorities hope that this will have a big impact on teen drivers, who are both more likely to be texting and prone to driving vehicles registered in their parents’ names – meaning the parents will be the ones to receive the warning letters. If you have been injured by a driver who was driving and texting, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages you’ve suffered. Contact the attorneys at Malamut & Associates to learn more about your rights.