NORTHAMPTON, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Northampton Police are putting more cruisers on the road this month, cracking down on distracted driving.

"There's so many things going on when you're driving," Captain John Cartledge of the Northampton Police Department tells us. "People really need to just focus on driving their vehicle and getting to their destination safely."

The Northampton Police Department watches for distracted drivers year-round.

This month, a $500 grant is allowing the department to put extra officers, who are focused on catching drivers, on the road for four hours every day.

"The grant's through the Executive Office of Public Safety, and," continued Capt. Cartledge. "It allows us to put extra staffing on throughout the day to specifically go out and look for people being distracted."

According to the National Safety Council, cell phone use while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes a year.

Texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol is.

One out of every four traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. are caused by cell phone usage.

Distracted driving means doing anything that takes your attention away from the road, like texting, playing with the radio, turning around to deal with kids in the back seat or even putting on makeup.

Western Mass News rode along with a Northampton Police officer to see what signs they look for with distracted driving.

"You're behind someone," said Capt. Cartledge. "Typically, the light turns green. A lot of people get impatient when they're sitting there for a few seconds and they're probably looking down at their phone or distracted by something."

As our cameras were rolling, a woman was texting while stopped at a red light, no ticket given, but a stern warning.

"I was next to you," adds Capt. Cartledge. "Do you know why I stopped you? I noticed, while I was next to you at the traffic light, you were on your phone texting. Did you know you can't be on your phone while driving in Massachusetts? I just gave you a written warning for it. I see you've never had a citation for it before. Usually, it's a $105 fine, even if you're stopped at a traffic light. I understand if you're looking at the phone, [and] checking the time, but I saw you going to town sending messages. Drive safe. Have a good day."

Copyright 2019 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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