Citing the negative influence hand-held phones and electronic devices have on safe driving, State Police will be participating in Operation Hang-Up during the Thanksgiving weekend.

Troopers will step up enforcement of the state law prohibiting texting and using cellphones without benefit of a hands-free device beginning on Wednesday, according to a news release.

The campaign, called Operation Hang-Up, is a response to "an explosion in the use of cellular technology," particularly by young drivers, the release said.

Troopers will make "distracted driving enforcement an agency priority," the release said.

Operation Hang-Up, which runs Wednesday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 25, will use unmarked State Police vehicles and marked patrol cars for the enhanced enforcement.

Drivers who use a hand-held device are four times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

The agency also said that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. Young and inexperienced drivers are most at risk, with 16 percent of all distracted driving crashes involving drivers younger than 20.

At any given moment during daylight hours, more than 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a hand-held cellphone, according to research by the agency.

Penalties include fines of $100 for a cellphone violation and $150 for texting, plus an $85 surcharge. A cellphone violation counts 2 points on the violator's driving record; a texting or electronic device violation is 3 points.

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