Robbinsville High School Juniors Urge State Lawmakers to Address Distracted Driving
Too Many Drivers are Ordering Food While Driving, Students Say
ROBBINSVILLE – February, 2024 – Juniors at Robbinsville High School were at the Statehouse on Thursday, Feb. 8 to voice support for a proposed Senate resolution that would urge restaurants to include warnings on their apps regarding distracted driving.
The students suggested the resolution to their local senator, Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-14th Dist.), who was the lead sponsor on the bill (SR 39). Following the testimony of the students before the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, lawmakers voted unanimously to move the resolution to the full Senate for consideration.
Jennifer Allessio, co-advisor of the Class of 2025 at Robbinsville High School, said the proposed resolution is a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, which has reshaped consumer behavior, notably in how consumers order and access food.
The students, she said, cited a study that shows digital orders at full-service restaurants skyrocketed by 237% between 2020 and 2021, with mobile ordering constituting 60 percent of these orders.
“To give an even clearer picture of the digital landscape, the students learned a quarter of all sales at Starbucks locations across the United States are made via their mobile app,” Allesio said.
The exponential increase in consumers using mobile ordering is not slowing down either; companies are doubling down on digital marketing, fostering loyalty programs, and creating promotions to incentivize mobile ordering. While this benefits both consumers and businesses, it comes with a notable downside: distracted driving.
Studies show 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, fueling the 1.6 million crashes annually.
“The students brainstormed ways to address the issue of distracted driving that would not stifle the growth of mobile ordering,” Allesio said. “ The result was Bill SR39, a resolution that urges restaurant owners to update their mobile ordering features to display pop-up messages reminding users to refrain from ordering while driving. This measure aims to create a balance between public safety and the support of the mobile ordering industry.”
The students include: Sam Cohen, Kami Enciso, Ellison Mentzer, Ekahsh Mohley, Kushad Padmaraju, Mitchell Shapiro and Caitlyn Todd. The co-advisor is Mark Iannelli.
The proposed resolution cites the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which reported 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents involving distracted driving in 2020, including such distractions as using a cell phone, eating, or adjusting the radio or climate controls. Moreover, a recent study from Rowan University reported that 20 to 25 percent of drivers on certain New Jersey roads were distracted, most commonly by cell phone use.
“Urging the use of safety features to warn against mobile ordering while operating a motor vehicle is one step this House can take to encourage safe driving habits in this State,” the resolution reads.