Texting and driving is both illegal and dangerous, but law enforcement officials say motorists continue to use their hand-held devices behind the wheel. In an effort to crackdown on distracted driving, New Jersey police will be part of a nationwide effort this month to target the offenders.

Police will crackdown on distracted driving in April. (StarsStudio, ThinkStock)

The campaign is called "U drive. U text. U pay."  Thirty-eight local New Jersey police departments are each receiving $5,000 to take part in the three-week distracted driving effort in April. The campaign runs until April 21. In last year's "U Drive. U Text. U Pay" crackdown, police issued more than 13,000 summonses for illegal phone use, more than 5,900 for speeding and more than 1,200 for driving while intoxicated.

New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety spokesman Zach Hosseini says statistics show distracted driving is an accident maker. He said there have been "over 1.4 million crashes in the last decade."

According to Acting Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Gary Poedubicky, distracted driving is dangerous and against the law.

"Driving and texting is illegal and irresponsible. People who break our distracted driving laws will be stopped and fined," he said.

Recently, the AAA Foundation analyzed crash videos of teen drivers and found significant evidence that distracted driving is more prevalent that anyone previously expected.

Zach Hosseini says the message of this effort is simple.

"Pay attention to the job at hand, which is driving," he said.

Getting caught driving while using any type of handheld device in New Jersey can result in fines of $200 to $400 a first offense. After that, the penalties increase considerably, with a second offense bringing a possible fine increase up to $800 and three insurance point for subsequent violations.