Law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey are cracking down on distracted drivers during a three-week initiative.
Dubbed the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign, a $300,000 grant from the state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety will pay for increased patrols and checkpoints through April 21, with police officers checking for drivers texting or talking on their phones, according to a release from state’s Attorney General’s Office.
60 police departments have each received $5,000, and more departments are expected to participate unfunded. The campaign is part of a nationwide effort.
“Distracted driving is without a doubt a major threat to everyone on or near the road in New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “Drivers should be focused on one task: driving. Texting, talking or playing games on a smart phone are an unwelcome and unsafe distraction. The dangers of driver inattention are staggering, placing drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike in harm’s way. This initiative is a needed boost to law enforcement, whose presence on the road positively impacts the driving behaviors of the public.”
It is illegal in New Jersey to operate a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic device. First time offenders violating the state’s primary cell phone law face a $100 fine plus court costs and fees. But on July 1, the penalties will increase to a range of $200 to $400 for a first offense and as much as $800 in subsequent violations.
For a list of the funded participants, click here.