Many drivers fail to see motorcyclists on the road, which can leave riders vulnerable to serious injury. The risk becomes even greater if those drivers are using a cell phone behind the wheel.
Several states, including New Jersey, have imposed restrictions on cell phone use, but are those laws making a difference? A recent study shows that, for motorcyclists, the difference is a matter of life or death.
Motorcycle fatalities are decreasing
According to a study conducted by faculty at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami, states that have cell phone bans have 11 percent fewer motorcycle fatalities than state with no bans in place. The severity of the ban does not make a difference – if there is a ban in place, the fatality rate is lower.
This is a significant finding, as motorcyclists are typically more likely to sustain fatal injuries from an accident than other motor vehicles. While car safety has improved and driven down the overall accident fatality rate, motorcycle fatalities have not dropped with it.
And though research is mixed on whether cell phone bans decrease overall traffic fatalities, the study shows that for these specific travelers, bans have a huge impact.
What does New Jersey’s cell phone ban include?
In New Jersey, talking or texting with a handheld device behind the wheel is a primary offense, which means police officers can pull over a driver for using a cell phone and no other reason. Other forms of distracted driving, such as eating, grooming or talking with passengers, are not primary offenses under New Jersey law but could still cause an accident.
Motorcyclists are not immune to a traffic accident and the potential injuries are serious. However, based on the survey and state restrictions, New Jersey is a safer state for motorcyclists than others.