FTPD Gets $11,000 To Crack Down On Distracted Driving In April

You shouldn’t be doing it anyway, but think twice for the first three weeks of April before you pick up that phone while driving.

The state’s annual “U Text, U Drive, U Pay” crackdown on distracted driving begins April 1 – no joke – and the Franklin Township Police Department is one of 207 departments across the state receiving some extra green from the state for enforcement efforts.

In fact, while most other towns received $5,500, the FTPD was granted $11,000. In total, the 207 departments received $1 million in grants from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety.

The Franklin PD received the extra money because it’s responsible for more than just the Eight Villages, said FTPD spokesman Lt. Phil Rizzo.

“The Township of Franklin provides traffic enforcement to the Borough of Millstone and Borough of Rocky Hill through a shared services agreement,” Rizzo wrote in an email. “These jurisdictions are eligible for and received money through this grant as well. For that reason, Franklin Township received $11,000. We received these funds to provide extra distracted driving patrols in those jurisdictions as well.”

Rizzo said that starting April 1, “Officers will be out at various times of the day actively enforcing violations of the distracted driver laws.”

That’s not not just texting while driving, or using a cell phone without a hands-free device.

According to the DHTS web site, distracted driving violations include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

According to the web site, enforcement activity includes “include roving police patrols, spotters on highway overpasses, and stationary police vehicles prominently placed at strategic locations.”

“Distracted driving is a dangerous epidemic on New Jersey’s roadways, being cited as a major contributing factor in over 804,000 motor vehicle crashes in the state from 2011 to 2015,” according to the state’s web site. “Nationwide 3,450 people were killed in distracted driving crashes in 2016 alone.”

In a separate statement, state HTSD director Eric Heitmann said distrcted driving is “clearly one of the most critical traffic safety issues that we face today.”

The crackdown will last through April 21.


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