Manchester Township Police have signed on to support the statewide UDrive. UText. Upay distracted driving initiative this April.

distracteddrivingDrivers talking and texting on their phones are the focus of the month-long crackdown by law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey. Even though Manchester was not among the municipalities to receive a grant to fund the program locally, the township’s police officers nonetheless will participate in the important enforcement operation.

“Distracted driving has been linked to a number of serious and fatal accidents in Manchester over the past year. It is important we get the message out that distracted driving will not be tolerated on our roadways,” said Patrolman Antonio Ellis of the Manchester Township Police Traffic Safety Section.

Police officers throughout Manchester, which is home to heavily-traveled sections of State Highways 70 and 37, will be targeting distracted drivers as part of the initiative. Patrolman Ellis said that motorists should consider the dangers of picking up a cell phone, as even a few seconds of distraction—sending a quick text message or even glancing at an incoming call—could have serious consequences.

“Enforcement is not enough. There must be education, too, to keep everyone safe on our roads,” Patrolman Ellis said. “If motorists need to make a call or send a text message while driving, we encourage them to pull over to a safe location before using their phone.”

Other distractions drivers should be mindful of include: operating radio controls, applying makeup, talking to other passengers, tending to children or pets, and eating and drinking.

It is illegal in New Jersey to operate a motor vehicle while using a handheld electronic device. Currently, motorists violating New Jersey’s primary cell phone law face a $100 fine plus court costs and fees. However, on July 1, those penalties will rise to a range of $200 to $400 for a first offense and could increase to $800 in subsequent violations because of a new law signed Governor Chris Christie in June of 2013.