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(NECN: Kathryn Sotnik) - Massachusetts State Police are launching a new crackdown on distracted driving. The campaign is the result of some new federal funding.
Massachusetts State Police want you to know they'll be out in "full-force" looking for distracted drivers, thanks in part, to a federal grant. The state has been awarded $275,000 in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funding to increase enforcement of the Massachusetts driving law.
That law "bans sending, typing, or reading electronic messages to or from handheld devices while operating a motor vehicle, and a complete ban on the use of all handheld electronic devices by junior operators while behind the wheel."
The safe driving law was signed by Governor Deval Patrick and became effective in 2010.
In a special news conference Wednesday, Lieutenant Colonel Edward Amodeo of the MSP said, "saving lives is the core mission of the Mass. State Police."
In the first installment, state police say 190 extra patrols will be added in the north shore area for several weeks on and off through a two-year period.
Specifically, the extra patrols will be added from June 10 to June 29 on state roadways in 12 cities and towns, including Andover, Dracut, Dunstable, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, North Andover, North Reading, Reading, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro and Wilmington.
The pilot program is called "text with one hand, ticket in the other." Police say the high visibility campaign will give them "the ability to test the high-visibility enforcement model and effectively observe distracted driver behaviors through proven enforcement strategies."
According to Mike Geraci, a local administrator from NHTSA, "thousands of people a year are killed by distracted driving, a high majority by an individual texting."