As a driver in New Jersey, it’s common to see the driver next to you on their phone, looking like a bobblehead, up at the road and down at their phone. If this feels like an all-too-common occurrence on New Jersey roads, your instincts are correct.

New Jersey ranks number one in the country for most distracted drivers. According to a Life360 study, New Jersey drivers use their phones once every 4.7 miles driven. The high frequency of cell phone use on New Jersey roads is leading to a high rate of cell phone related car accidents.

We reviewed New Jersey Department of Transportation data on crashes related to cell phone usage to see how bad the problem is and find where the worst distracted drivers are. Data shows a 29% increase in crashes related to cell phone usage from 2011 to 2016. Not only is New Jersey guilty of distracted driving, but it’s trending upward.

We here at QuoteWizard wanted to dig into the data and find out where the most distracted drivers are in New Jersey. Using NJDT cell phone usage crash data and county population data, we found the New Jersey counties with the highest rate of distracted driving accidents. Below is a ranking of all 21 New Jersey counties from highest rate of distracted driving car crashes to the lowest.

Rank   County   Population   Cell Phone Car Crashes   Crashes per 10,000 People  
1   Hudson County   679,756   779   11.46  
2   Essex County   800,401   540   6.75  
3   Passaic County   510,563   334   6.54  
4   Cape May County   94,549   57   6.03  
5   Camden County   510,996   239   4.68  
6   Burlington County   449,192   191   4.25  
7   Monmouth County   627,551   254   4.05  
8   Atlantic County   272,926   98   3.59  
9   Ocean County   589,699   193   3.27  
10   Union County   557,320   170   3.05  
11   Gloucester County   291,372   85   2.92  
12   Cumberland County   154,952   44   2.84  
13   Bergen County   937,920   255   2.72  
14   Salem County   63,776   17   2.67  
15   Middlesex County   837,288   213   2.54  
16   Morris County   498,847   121   2.43  
17   Mercer County   373,362   90   2.41  
18   Somerset County   333,316   75   2.25  
19   Warren County   107,088   24   2.24  
20   Sussex County   143,570   28   1.95  
21   Hunterdon County   125,717   24   1.91  

Hudson County

Biggest Cities: Jersey City, Union City, Bayonne, Hoboken

At 11.46 distracted car crashes per 10,000 people, Hudson County is nearly double that of the next worst distracted driving county. A high rate of passing traffic from the Big Apple into Hudson County could be a leading cause.

2. Essex County

Biggest Cities: Newark, Orange, Montclair

Neighboring to the west of Hudson Country, Essex County is another high traffic area with frequent distracted driving. 6.75 distracted car crashes per 10,000 people is significantly less than Hudson County but means Essex is the second most distracted county in New Jersey.

3. Passaic County

Biggest Cities: Paterson, Clifton

North of Essex County is Passaic County, which barely edged their southern neighbors for third on our list. Passaic had 6.54 distracted car accidents per 10,000 people.

4. Cape May County

Biggest Cities: Woodbine, Ocean City, Cape May

Bucking the trend of population dense counties, Cape May comes in a number four on in our ranking. Considering Cape May’s population, 6.03 distracted driving accidents per 10,000 people is a high figure. The second lowest population and the fourth highest rate of accidents among New Jersey counties signal a unique issue for the county. Could the summer vacationers to the shore be more focused on the beach and phones rather than the road?    

5. Camden County

Biggest Cities: Camden, Cherry Hill

Though Camden county has a lower rate of distracted drivers than northern New Jersey counties, Camden County still pulled at top 5 ranking at 4.68 distracted car crashes per 10,000 people.

Middlesex and Bergen Counties

The trend we’re seeing is that there’s a higher rate of distracted driving accidents in more population dense counties. It follows conventional wisdom of higher odds of accidents happening with more people on the roads.

However, Middlesex and Bergen counties are the two most populated counties in New Jersey and both rank in the bottom half among distracted driving counties. Police patrolling of distracted drivers could play a role, or the drivers of Middlesex and Bergen counties could be more focused on the road.

Methodology

Rankings were determined by counties with the highest rate of cell phone related car crashes per 10,000 people. To get crash figures, we used 2016  New Jersey Department of Transportation data on crashes related to cell phone usage. We then used New Jersey  county population to compare the rate of car crashes. The final rankings are a rate of car crashes per 10,000 county residents.