Troopers and transportation officials crack down on distracted driving

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According to police, violators of distracted driving laws will be stopped and cited with fines set at $162 for first-time offenders. April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the department along with other law enforcement agencies in the state of MI in collaboration with the Office of Highway Safety Planning will be looking for drivers who text while driving, and try to take a positive correction action.

"I think it is very important to be clear that we must not have people distracted by reporting distracted drivers", he said.

Drivers ages 19-24 were almost twice as likely as all drivers to report having typed or sent a text message or email while driving (59.3 percent vs. 31.4 percent).

Joseph Morrissey, a spokesman for the state Department of Motor Vehicles, said that past year alone, in Suffolk County there were 11,116 tickets issued for distracted driving, including 6,876 for cellphone use and 4,240 for texting.

"It's an issue everywhere", Frey said of distracted driving. The same drivers who describe texting and other risky behavior as unacceptable, also admit to engaging in it. Assembly Bill 1785 went into effect on January 1, requiring all drivers in California to keep their cell phone out of their hands while operating a motor vehicle.

"Law enforcement would rather see everyone off their cell phones than hand out a lot of tickets", said Rhonda Craft, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. When asked why, they provided reasons such as improved efficiency, need to stay in touch, habit, searching for information on the internet, and seeing something they want to share.

In addition to the #77 program expansion, Porrino said an enforcement blitz has been initiated by the State Police.

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The campaign will coincide with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

"They're setting up observation points and intersections and interchanges where they will physically look at drivers", he said.

"They will involve troopers in roving patrols, troopers in unmarked units and troopers in plain clothes", he said.

Law enforcement agencies across Minnesota will be conducting extra distracted driving enforcement April 10-23 to help prevent senseless deaths on the road.

"The text or the email can wait because a distracted driver is a deadly driver", he said.

"The proliferation of the smart phones, the one that internet access and texting in one device, is proving to be a very risky combination and a very unsafe tool", he said.

Local police urge residents to remind family and friends to never text and drive.