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Nearly $30,000 in state funding given to police departments on, near campus to target distracted drivers

The Rutgers University Police Department received grant money from the state to crack down on distracted driving around campus in April.  – Photo by Uriel Isaacs

On Wednesday, the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety announced that 182 law enforcement agencies statewide were given grants to enforce distracted driving rules during April, according to a press release.

The campaign is known as "U Drive. U Text. U Pay." It runs from April 1 to April 30 as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

In 2022, approximately half of the drivers involved in motor vehicle collisions in New Jersey were distracted at the time of the crash, resulting in 180 fatalities and more than 1,500 serious injuries, according to the release.

"Staying focused behind the wheel from the moment you step into your car is crucial in preventing a possible tragedy," Attorney General Matthew Platkin said in the release.

The Rutgers University Police Department received $7,000, while the Piscataway Police Department received $8,750 in grant money.

The New Brunswick Police Department received $14,000 in grant money, which makes it 1 of 6 police departments that received the largest amount of funding.

The funding will allow for increased road patrols and enforcement of distracted driving laws by local police departments, according to the release.

Last year, the enforcement blitz led to more than 7,000 tickets issued to drivers using their cell phones and approximately 4,000 tickets given out for careless driving.

Using a phone while driving in New Jersey can result in a fine anywhere from $200 to $400 for a first offense and all the way up to $800 for additional violations, according to the release.

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