A New Jersey state senate subcommittee has approved legislation that would give prosecutors more authority to seek vehicular assault, manslaughter, or assault charges for distracted drivers involved in accidents that result in severe injury or death. A new bill, labeled S1616 allows prosecutors to use proof a driver was illegally using a cellphone for text or voice based messaging at the time of an accident to support a reckless driving charge. The bill’s purpose is to discourage drivers from disobeying the state’s ban on cellphone use behind the wheel. The bill, which passed through the New Jersey Senate’s Law and Public Safety Committee by a unanimous 5-0 vote, Legislators in support of the bill said that the kind of multitasking distractions offered by today’s handheld electronic communication devices are dangerous to everyone on the road. By allowing prosecutors to bring reckless driving charges against motorists found to be in violation of the state’s cell phone ban at the time of a collision, the legislation would make it easier for prosecutors to make a case that the distracted driver was putting the lives of others at risk with his or her behavior. A similar bill, introduced to the New Jersey State Senate’s Law and Public Safety Committee in 2011, did not survive its initial committee stage. Citizens in favor of the legislation have said they hope it will be the measure that finally makes people realize how dangerous distracted driving can be.