The Maumelle Police Department will be among the law enforcement agencies around the country that will be participating in enhanced operations to combat texting and driving.

The effort will start April 10 and continue through April 15.

"People need to know that we are serious about stopping this deadly behavior," said Maumelle Police Capt. Jim Hansard. "Driving and texting has reached epidemic levels, and enforcement of our state texting law is Violating Arkansas’ texting law."

That law went into books last October and it makes it illegal in Arkansas to send or read text, email, or any other thing that required the driver’s eyes to be diverted from the task of driving due to cell phone usage.

Hansard that people need to be particularly careful around schools, where it is illegal to use a cell phone in any fashion, regardless of the driver’s age.

The law does allow for hands free usage by adults in or around school zones, but this is the only exception. Young drivers with intermediate drivers licenses may not use cell phones under any circumstances in these areas.

The financial penalties for violating the law can be stiff as they vary from the type of infraction and the age of the people who broke the law.

"When you text while driving, you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving," Hansard said. "That puts everyone else’s lives in danger, and no one has the right to do that."

The campaign, called "U Drive. U Text. U Pay" is modeled after other police efforts like "Click it or Ticket" and "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."

The effort is being paid for by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation and will also include a significant advertising campaign.

"We’re serious about enforcing texting laws," Hansard said. "If you drive and text, you will pay."

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