Robbinsville, NJ – A group of juniors from Robbinsville High School took their concerns about distracted driving to the Statehouse on Thursday, February 8, 2024. The students, advocating for a proposed Senate resolution, called for restaurants to include warnings on their mobile apps regarding the dangers of ordering food while driving. The resolution, known as Bill SR39, was introduced by local senator Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14th Dist.) and received unanimous support from the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
The proposed resolution is a response to the changing consumer behavior brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in the way people order and access food. The students presented a study that revealed a staggering 237% increase in digital orders at full-service restaurants between 2020 and 2021, with 60 percent of these orders being made through mobile apps. Additionally, the students highlighted that a quarter of all sales at Starbucks locations in the United States are made via their mobile app.
While the surge in mobile ordering has benefited both consumers and businesses, it has also resulted in a rise in distracted driving incidents. Studies have shown that using mobile phones while driving reduces attention to the road by up to 37 percent and increases the risk of accidents by 400 percent, contributing to the 1.6 million crashes that occur annually.
To address this issue without impeding the growth of the mobile ordering industry, the students proposed updating mobile ordering features to display pop-up messages reminding users to refrain from ordering while driving. This approach seeks to strike a balance between public safety and supporting the mobile ordering industry.
The proposed resolution references data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which reported that 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving in 2020. These distractions included using a cell phone, eating, or adjusting the radio or climate controls. Furthermore, a recent study conducted by Rowan University found that 20 to 25 percent of drivers on certain New Jersey roads were distracted, with cell phone use being the most common distraction.
By urging the implementation of safety features that discourage mobile ordering while driving, the resolution aims to promote safe driving habits in the state. The students who presented the resolution include Sam Cohen, Kami Enciso, Ellison Mentzer, Ekahsh Mohley, Kushad Padmaraju, Mitchell Shapiro, and Caitlyn Todd, with Mark Iannelli serving as their co-advisor.
As the resolution moves to the full Senate for consideration, it is hoped that the inclusion of warnings on mobile apps will raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving and ultimately contribute to a safer road environment.