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New Jersey cracking down on distracted driving this month

Distracted driving is a real problem in New Jersey, and countless people are injured in the state each year as a result.

Even though it is illegal to use a handheld electronic device while operating a vehicle in New Jersey and drivers who violate the law face large fines, drivers continue to engage in the behavior.

That’s why the state will be taking part in a nationwide campaign this month to raise awareness on distracted driving. The program, which was developed by the Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is called “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.”

It will involve increased patrols and checkpoints on New Jersey’s roads in order to ticket drivers who are caught violating the state’s texting and driving laws.

The campaign began this week and will run through April 21. Federal and state highway officials hope it will be as successful as past campaigns that raised awareness on drunk driving and seat belt laws.

As part of the program, states with texting and driving laws were given close to $8 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation in order to pay for the extra police enforcements and other efforts to raise public awareness on the potential consequences of distracted driving.

When distracted drivers cause serious car accidents in New Jersey, they not only face potential criminal charges but also civil lawsuits. Accident victims who are injured by drivers who were breaking the law — such as texting while driving — may be able to sue the drivers for damages in personal injury lawsuits.

Ultimately, using a cell phone or another handheld electronic device is not a risk worth taking and people who continue to do it will likely end up paying a price.

Source: 7 Eyewitness News, “New Jersey launches crackdown on distracted driving,” April 1, 2014

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