NJ police crack down for distracted driving awareness month

NORTH BERGEN, NJ — Starting Monday and running through April 21, 207 police departments across New Jersey will be stepping up patrols to ticket drivers who are talking or texting behind the wheel.

North Bergen Police Department began its efforts along Bergenline Avenue Monday afternoon.

“We’ll have officers on motorcycles, bicycles and cars. We’ll be driving and looking for drivers who are distracted," said North Bergen Police Sgt. Victor Queiro.

Police issued warnings and tickets to drivers, which can carry fines ranging from $200 to $800 for first, second or third offenses. Later tickets can carry three points or even lead to license suspension.

“Being distracted on your cell phone, texting, talking, surfing the internet is a reason for a lot of crashes and we think some enforcement will hopefully change some habits," said Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

Jersey City is also participating in the statewide effort.

The public safety campaign, “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.," awarded over $1 million dollars to police departments statewide to pay for the added patrols.

Jersey City and North Bergen got $5,500 each.

The most recent numbers available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show 3,166 people died in 2017 in distracted driving crashes, down from 3,450 in 2016.

"I’ve seen it happen, a couple accidents," said Jason Montoya, who lives in North Bergen. "I try to put my phone away as well."

During 2016 and 2017, more than 50 percent of all car crashes in New Jersey were caused by a distracted driver.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

This is New Jersey’s sixth year participating in this campaign.

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