EDISON – Township police officers are participating in a statewide distracted driving crackdown over the next three weeks, targeting motorists using their cell phone or engaging in other behaviors that divert their attention while behind the wheel, officials said in a press release Monday.

“Distracted driving is an enormous problem throughout New Jersey and nationally,” Police Chief Thomas Bryan said in the release, noting that it was a contributing factor in 817,000 motor vehicle accidents across the state from 2010 to 2014. “That’s a staggering statistic. Many of those accidents are avoidable if people keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”

According to the release, Edison received a $5,500 state grant to fund its special enforcement effort. It will be one of more than 180 police departments across the Garden State participating the push that continue through April 21.

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“The theme is ‘UDrive. UText. UPay.’ It is a crackdown on all distracted driving habits, the primary ones being the talking or texting on cell phones while driving,” said Gary Poedubicky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

Police said they will be on the lookout for other distractions, including:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming
  • Talking to passengers
  • Adjusting radios, CD or MP3 players
  • Adjusting navigation systems
  • Reading or watching videos

According to the release, penalties include: $200 to $400 fines for a first offense; $400 to $600 for second offenses; and fines of up to $800 for a third offense.

Police said penalties for a third offense may also include a 90-day license suspension, and mandatory court appearances are required for all offenses.