New Jersey may create a temporary task force designed to save lives, specifically taking on the issue of driver distractions.

A proposed state law to create a 13-member task force, including three members of the public, recently cleared an Assembly panel and just needs the approval of the full Assembly before hitting the governor's desk.

“Distracted driving is a truly dangerous and potentially deadly epidemic in New Jersey and was cited as a major contributing factor in over 817,000 motor vehicle crashes in our state," said Assemblywoman Carol Murphy, D-Burlington. "The task force recommendations will include a suggestion for the development of a public information campaign to raise awareness of the risks associated with driver distractions and to educate New Jerseyans on ways to limit those risks."

The bill states the task force may also make recommendations for legislative or regulatory action.

Murphy noted smartphone use is not the only thing distracting drivers behind the wheel, but one of the panel's specific tasks would be to develop recommendations for improving highway safety by reducing crashes linked to electronics use behind the wheel.

If the bill were to become law, task force members must submit an interim report to the state within six months, and a final report no later than 12 months after its organization. The task force would then expire.

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