Driving Safety
“In 2004, more than 15,000 people died nationwide in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 or higher. Of those, nearly 13,000 were in crashes where the driver’s BAC was .08 or higher.”
(source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

Impaired Driving

  • Impaired driving continues to be a top cause of preventable death in the United States. Alcohol and drug related accidents continue to be a major problem on New Jersey’s roadways and Middlesex’s alike.
    (source: New Jersey Divison of Highway Traffic Safety)
  • Middlesex County’s goal is to reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents by promoting safe driving through alcohol and drug awareness programs, such as:

    Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over – Prevention and not arrest is the goal of this campaign. Local police departments have adopted this strategy to deliver a message to the motoring public that the risk of being caught is too high, in hopes that behaviors will change. The "Drive Sober or get Pulled Over" campaign has already influenced thousands of citizens nationwide, including in Middlesex County, not to drink and drive.

    PSA “Don’t Drink and Drive” - In the year 2000, Middlesex County Freeholder H. James Polos created a program called the “Middlesex County Don’t Drink and Drive PSA Video Contest”, with the goal of reducing alcohol related fatalities among teens. Middlesex County’s PSA Don’t Drink and Drive contest requires high school students to make a video explaining the dangers of impaired and distracted driving and ways to avoid unnecessary accidents. The contest coincides with prom and graduation season.

    The program has expanded over the years and now the County partners with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, NCADD, Rutgers University Alcohol Studies and NJHTS. High school students are asked to produce 30-second videos and audio PSAs, which are judged by a team of public safety and creative production specialists from around the State. This year the initiative was expanded to include distracted driving, specifically texting and cell phone use. The program is now known as 3D PSA “Don’t Drive Dangerously” Contest.

    Watch 16th Annual PSA “Don’t Drive Dangerously” program video:

    D.R.I.V.E. Program – The D.R.I.V.E. program enlightens students to the pitfalls of driving while under the influence through the use of fatal vision goggles that mimics the effects of being intoxicated. Through physical application, students are able to realize the dangers of driving while intoxicated.

    Middlesex County's Driver Response Impaired Vision Exercise (D.R.I.V.E.) program was created by Freeholder H. James Polos. This unique program utilizes golf carts and sight-impairing fatal vision goggles to create a hands-on impaired driving experience for the driver. Polos designed a course utilizing road cones, safety barriers and traffic signs that can be set up in parking lot areas of high schools.
  • Hero Campaign – Middlesex County was the first County in New Jersey to officially adopt the now nationally recognized HERO program. The John R. Elliott HERO Campaign for Designated Drivers promotes the use of sober designated drivers to keep drunken drivers off our highways. The program, whose motto is: “Be a HERO. Be a Designated Driver,” was founded by William Elliott after his son John was killed by a man who had been arrested for driving under the influence.

    Businesses throughout Middlesex County sponsor the program by displaying posters, circulating brochures and car window decals, and by selling blue “HERO” wristbands to promote the designated driver campaign. Additionally, in an effort to educate teens on the dangers of drinking, the County has created HERO chapters in the high schools that will focus solely on preventing drunk driving and underage drinking.
    One in three people will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lifetime.

    Middlesex County Crashes Involving Alcohol
      2007 2008 2009
    Fatalities 3 5 8
    Injuries 289 258 295
    Property Damage 442 487 398

    Occupant Restraints

    Seat Belts – Seat Belts have been proven to be a major factor in improving survivability and reducing severity in motor vehicle crashes. They are also the best defense occupants have against an impaired driver. Middlesex County’s seat belt usage declined from 2008 to 2009 according to the “National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS)” conducted in August 2009 (National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
    Click It Or Ticket – Click It or Ticket is a highly publicized law enforcement effort that gives people more of a reason to buckle up – the increased threat of a traffic ticket. Most people buckle up for safety, but for some people, it is the threat of the ticket that spurs them to put on a safety belt. In Click It Or Ticket programs, law enforcement agencies are asked to focus on safety belt violations and publicize the stepped-up effort through news media and advertising.

    Click It Or Ticket campaigns and similar efforts have increased safety belt use in cities, states and even in an entire region of the country In New Jersey, 419 police agencies participated in the May 2011 Click It or Ticket Enforcement Mobilization. According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, as a result of the enforcement and public information efforts, New Jersey’s seat belt usage has risen to an all-time high of 94.51%.

    Distracted Driving

    (source: New Jersey Divison of Highway Traffic Safety)
    What is Distracted Driving?
    There are three main types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive.
    1. Visual refers to removing your eyes from the road.
    2. Manual refers to actions that remove your hands from the wheel of the vehicle.
    3. Cognitive refers to any instance in which your mind is not focused on driving.
    While all distractions can endanger a driver’s safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distractions.

    Other Distractions Include
    • Using a cell phone
    • Eating and drinking
    • Using a PDA or GPS
    • Changing the radio station, CD, or Mp3 player.
    • Talking to passengers
    The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers was the under-20 age group - 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)

    Drivers who use hand-held devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. (Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

    Materials for download: (click image to view PDF)