TRENTON The campaign is as clear as a text message, right down to the jargon: "U Drive. U Text. U Pay."
That's the bottom line law enforcement agencies throughout the state want motorists to know, as police make a concerted effort to crack down on distracted driving this month.
The state Attorney General's Office Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced Wednesday that it has begun a three-week campaign to curb the dangerous practice. The division awarded $5,000 to 38 police departments to take part in the initiative, part of a nationwide program during Distracted Driving Awareness Month. Agencies not receiving funds are expected to also participate.
A study by the AAA Foundation found that "distraction" was a factor in about six out of 10 "moderate-to-severe" crashes involving teenagers, according to the highway traffic safety division's announcement.
New Jersey law prohibits motorists from using a handheld electronic device while driving. Those caught using a device while driving face fines between $200 and $400 for a first offense.
Last year, the campaign against distracted driving resulted in almost 13,500 summonses for illegal phone use, about 5,900 for speeding, and more than 1,200 for DWI.