Police this week launched an enforcement crackdown on drivers who text and talk on their cell phones.

Called "U Drive, U Text, U Pay," the campaign is planned in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation's Highway Safety Office to step up enforcement of the ban on texting, cellphone use and other distractions by drivers, according to police Capt. Sam Arciola.

He said this effort is part of a larger campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has designated the month of April as national distracted driving awareness month.

Local police are adding special patrols targeting distracted drivers, especially those texting or talking on their phones, Arciola said.

"Driving and texting is illegal and irresponsible," he said in a statement.

"People who break our state's texting law will be stopped and fined," he said. "If you drive and text, you will pay. For those who say that driving and texting is an epidemic, we believe enforcement of our hand-held mobile phone ban law is part of the cure."

Under the state's cell phone and texting law, violations are punishable with fines ranging from $150 for a first offense, $300 for a second violation and $500 for each subsequent violation.

During a similar three-week campaign last September, more than 7,000 motorists were issued tickets for using their phones while driving, according to Arciola.

In 2013, 3,154 people were killed and an estimated additional 424,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, he said.

"Texting and driving requires motorists to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task of driving, said Arciola. "It creates the proverbial perfect storm for a crash, and no one has the right to put another person's life at risk like that."

More than $4.6 million dollars has been granted to the state over the last two years to fund anti-distracted driving campaigns, Arciola said. Connecticut qualifies for the federal funding source through a mix of "tough laws," he said, and a track record in enforcement of distracted driving laws.

For more information about national distracted driving issues, visit www/distraction.gov.