SOMERSET COUNTY, NJ – Law enforcement officers from Somerset and Hunterdon counties will be cracking down on distracted drivers during the month of April, as part of New Jersey’s UDrive. UText. UPay. enforcement campaign. according to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson.

Beginning April 1 and running through April 21, the high-visibility law enforcement initiative will target motorists who engage in dangerous distracted driving behaviors such as talking on hand-held cell phones and sending text messages while driving.

“Distracted driving is possibly the most serious safety issue on our roadways today,” said Eric Heitmann, director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety. "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and an estimated 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.”

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In New Jersey, driver inattention was listed as a contributing circumstance in 52 percent of the state’s crashes in 2015. Driver inattention was, in fact listed as a contributing factor in crashes at a rate nine times higher than that of the next highest contributing factor, speeding.

The National Safety Council has designated April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The New Jersey campaign is modeled after similar successful high-visibility enforcement programs such as Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

Drivers are encouraged to be proactive with their behavior and choices. Hands-on or hands-free, it is only a matter of time before fate catches up to each of us who choose to take part in this risky behavior. If you are talking on a cell phone, hands-free or hands-on, the risk of being in a crash increases by 4 times. Sending or receiving a text message increases the crash risk 8-23 times, according to the National Safety Council.

Robertson urges drivers to:

- turn your phone off;

- install an app to disable your phone;

- put the phone in the trunk, back seat or glove box;

- simply ignore the alerts until you get to your destination.

Robertson request anyone with information to contact the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office at (908) 231-7100 or via the STOPit app. The STOPit app can be downloaded to your smartphone for free at the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, access code: “SOMERSETNJ”. Information can also be provided through the Somerset County Crime Stoppers’ Tip Line at 1-888-577-TIPS (8477) or online at www.888577tips.org or at www.scpo.net and click on either “Crime Stoppers” or “TIPS HOTLINE”. All anonymous STOPit reports and Crime Stopper tips will be kept confidential.