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New Jersey law cracks down on commuter van drivers

Lawmakers hope a new law in New Jersey will improve the safety of commuter vans as well as combat distracted driving. The new law targets commuter vans in the state by increasing the penalties commuter van drivers and companies can face after car accidents. The law also requires commuter vans to post the passenger bill of rights along with a number to call to report bad driving. The phone number must be posted inside and outside of the van. 

The law is commonly referred to as "Angelie's Law," named after a baby who was killed by a distracted driver last summer. The fatal accident happened when a commuter van, driven by a man using a cellphone, went off the road and hit a light pole. The light pole then fell on a stroller, killing an 8-month old girl named Angelie. 

Lawmakers hope the new law will reduce distracted driving by commuter van drivers. Distracted driving is very dangerous, and van drivers carrying passengers need to focus on the road.

The fatal accident that led to the new law shows just how dangerous it is to use a cellphone while driving and how it can lead to a tragic accident. Cellphone use is a common reason for distracted driving accidents because it takes a driver's attention off the road. Texting or dialing on a cellphone even for just a few seconds takes your attention away from driving and can lead to disastrous consequences for everyone on the road.

Drivers need to be aware of the dangers of distracted driving, especially distractions caused by cellphone use. What can drivers do to reduce the risk of distracted driving car accidents? Below are a few tips drivers should follow to stay safe: 

  • Turn off your cellphone or put it your purse or glove compartment
  • Pull over safely if you need to use your cellphone
  • Don't reach for your cellphone or other objects while driving
  • Adjust the radio and heat settings before you start driving 
  • Don't eat while driving

Source: CBS New York, "N.J. Pols Introduce 'Angelie's Law' Targeting Distracted Commuter Van Drivers," Jan. 30, 2014

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