New Jersey bill may prohibit drinking coffee while driving
New Jersey bill may prohibit drinking coffee while driving. Image credit: Adeevee.

A New Jersey driving bill proposal has been the subject of discussion between lawmakers, insurance companies, and the local media this week.

The bill’s purpose is to diminish car accidents by filing fines to citizens that engage in distractive driving. However, a new section of the law has caused mixed feelings among New Jerseyans as it prohibits any activity unrelated to the operation of a motor vehicle, a measure that could prevent drivers to eat or even drink coffee, according to local opinion sites.

Democratic Assemblyman, John Wisniewski, proposed the Bill 1908, co-sponsored by fellow lawmakers Nicholas Chiaravalloti and Patrick Diegnan. The group wants to address the increasing problem of distracting driving by empowering law officers to record on the summons the precise nature of the distractive behavior from offenders.

The bill lets police officers determine whether something is distracting 

Penalties from this law consist of a first offense $200-$400 fine, a $400-$600 a second offense, and $600-$800 for a third subsequent violation, in which case the court may order a 90-day license suspension.

Some of New Jersey`s local news sites have taken opposition to the legislation, now referred as “The coffee bill” or “the ham sandwich bill.” The Burlington County Times featured an article by columnist and news writer, J.D Mullane claiming that although the bill does not explicitly ban coffee drinking while driving, it doesn’t need to.

Mr. Wisniewski clarified during a Philadelphia radio program on Tuesday the bill didn`t mention coffee, and no reasonable interpretation of the legislation involved coffee drinking.

Studies indicate the “coffee bill” wouldn’t be sufficient 

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a report about distracted driving back in 2014. The report describes that based on the research done by the Institute, it is unlikely new law is going to be an effective strategy against distracted driving or reduce car crashes.

Russ Rader, a spokesman for the Foundation, stated, long before there were cell phones and cup holders, distracted driving was already an issue.

The number of fatal crashes in New Jersey has increased by 9.6% in the first five months of 2016, according to State Police statistics. Utah and Maine have implemented similar restriction laws, forbidding personal grooming and hygiene while driving. Bill 1908 is pending approval by the Senate.

Source: NJ