FAIR LAWN, N.J. -- National Distracted Driver Awareness Month couldn't have gotten better publicity: A motorist rammed his Jeep into a Fair Lawn police car after running a stop sign while using his cellphone for directions, authorities said.
Officer Luis Vazquez emerged with a sore neck after his SUV was rammed by a 2017 Jeep Cherokee driven by Hani Chenouda, 41, of West Orange, at the corner of Willow Street and Kenneth Avenue, authorities said.
Chenouda admitted "he was using his cellphone for directions, holding it in his right hand, when he went through the stop sign" on eastbound Willow just after 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sgt. Sean Macys told Daily Voice. "Officer Vazquez saw it all happen."
Vazquez was cleared by doctors after going to a medical facility used by police, Macys said.
Chenouda, meanwhile, received summonses for failure to stop, disregarding a traffic control device and using a hand-held cellphone while driving.
With driver inattention contributing to crashes in New Jersey at a rate nine times higher than speeding, local police are conducting another “UDrive. UText. UPay.” campaign -- targeting motorists who talk or text on hand-held cellphones while driving as part of an annual three-week crackdown aimed at reducing crashes.
“Distracted driving is possibly the most serious safety issue on our roadways today,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and an estimated 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver,” he said.
Traffic fatalities in New Jersey rose from 562 in 2015 to 604 in 2016 -- an average of 12 deaths a week, authorities said. Distracted driving plays an enormous role, they said.
For that reason, citizens in New Jersey are able to report distracted drivers as part of the state’s #77 alert system.
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