PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — New Jersey’s top law enforcement official says he’s determined to end the deadly trend of distracted driving.

John Hoffman, the state’s acting attorney general, said Monday that about 1.5 million crashes over the past decade have been caused by distracted drivers, resulting in 1,600 deaths.

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“Distracted driving is, simply put, killing New Jerseyans,” Hoffman told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Monica Miller.

Sixty police departments in the state have been cracking down on distracted drivers in April as part of the “U Drive, U Text, U Pay” campaign.
At the midway point of the campaign, those agencies have issued more than 3,000 summonses, Hoffman said.

Gabriel Hurley is one of the victims of distracted driving. Just after graduating from Rutgers and getting his first job, he got into a wreck with a distracted driver and lost his sight and sense of smell.

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“One small mundane error to turn left instead of right altered my life in ways I never thought imaginable,” he said.

“Do you consider what happened to me to be an accident? Because I don’t. An accident sounds like something unavoidable and deflects blame. This was caused due to the inattentive driving of a teenager.”

While weeks-long crackdowns are typically reserved for serious infractions such as driving while intoxicated and seat belt violations, police point to frightening statistics that show distracted driving is responsible for killing on average one New Jersey motorist every two days.

Beginning July 1, fines jump from $100 to anywhere between $200 and $400 for talking or texting, and those fines increase with subsequent convictions.

April is National Distracted Driving Month.

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