$1.2 Million in Grants Awarded for Initiative to Combat Distracted Driving in NJ

Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Highway Traffic Safety (HTS) have announced the launch of a high visibility enforcement effort to reduce distracted driving. The campaign, known as “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.,” runs between April 1 and April 30, and provides funding for law enforcement agencies throughout the state to bolster enforcement of laws prohibiting texting and other forms of distracted driving. In addition to these enforcement efforts, HTS has launched a public awareness campaign to educate drivers about the dangers and consequences of distracted driving.

Preliminary data shows that in 2022, 49 percent of drivers involved in crashes in New Jersey were engaged in a distracted behavior, resulting in 180 fatalities and over 1,500 serious injuries. “Staying focused behind the wheel from the moment you step into your car is crucial in preventing a possible tragedy,” said Attorney General Platkin. “Our public awareness campaign and increased enforcement efforts against distracted driving help ensure that drivers keep their attention on the road and off their phones. Working together, we can help make roadways across New Jersey safer.”

“Every second behind the wheel demands a driver’s full attention,” said Michael J. Rizol, Jr., Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety. “During National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, HTS remains unwavering in its dedication to educating drivers about the consequences of distracted driving and is fully committed to equipping our law enforcement partners with the essential resources to swiftly address and remove distracted drivers from our roads.”

To assist with the “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” enforcement efforts, HTS has provided 182 law enforcement agencies in 20 counties with over $1.2 million in grants that pay for saturation patrols during the month-long campaign, which targets drivers who engage in distracted driving behaviors like texting or talking on the phone.

In New Jersey, using a handheld electronic device while operating a motor vehicle is illegal. Violating this law can result in fines ranging from $200 to $400 for a first offense and up to $800 for subsequent violations, along with the addition of three insurance points.

In 2023, the distracted driving mobilization yielded 7,130 citations for cell phone use or texting and almost 4,001 for careless driving.

The full list of agencies receiving grant funds can be found here: 2024 Final Grantee List.

For more information on traffic safety efforts undertaken by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, visit njsaferoads.com.

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