The Mississippi Highway Patrol is launching a safe driving program today in which troopers will stop and warn motorists who are on the phone, eating, texting or otherwise not paying attention to the road.
In 2011, at least 23 percent of auto collisions involved cell phones, which is 1.3 million crashes, according to textinganddrivingsafet.com
"The target areas are areas that have high rates of accidents involving distracted driving," said Highway Patrol spokesman Tony Dunn.
"Cleveland is a town we've talked about to get initiative action," he added.
While using a cell phone and driving is not illegal, distracted driving can cause accidents and even deaths.
"The Highway Patrol's "Pay Attention or Pay a Fine" initiative will kick off in the Oxford area along Miss. Highway 6. The program will eventually expand statewide. The initiative will use Mississippi's careless driving law to charge anyone they find who isn't paying attention to the road.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol hopes to show people exactly what distracted driving is.
"Anything you do in a car other than pay attention to the road is distracted driving. Your phone could ring and you could be looking at it, not talking on it, and that's distracted driving. If you're eating while driving that's also distracted driving," said Dunn.
Officers in unmarked cars will report distracted drivers to a marked car farther up the road.
"We won't pull anyone over in an unmarked car," said Dunn. "This is not a one time thing, we will be doing this from now on. We want to save more lives out there."