AUGUSTA — The Augusta Police Department will conduct extra patrols in the city focused on distracted driving from now until September.

It’s doing so with an $8,500 grant from the state Bureau of Highway Safety, according to Sgt. Christian Behr.

The program will consist of extra patrols focused on people who are texting while driving and failing to maintain control of a motor vehicle, both of which are violations of Maine’s driving laws, according to a press release from the department. Officers involved in the program will conduct traffic details and educate residents about distracted driving in a highly visible manner.

“Distracted Driving is a significant factor in many motor vehicle crashes,” Behr said. “It is the goal of the Augusta Police Department and Bureau of Highway Safety to reduce the number of crashes city- and statewide, especially among younger drivers. Many of these motorists will be first-time drivers that can be easily distracted with today’s technologies.”

The patrol activities will last from April to September.

Between 2010 and 2014, there were 21 fatal traffic accidents involving drivers who were “inattentive or lost in thought” reported in Maine, according to state data. In the same time period, 15 fatal accidents were attributed to distraction by an outside person or object and 12 to cellphone use.

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