By Cleve Bryan

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) — New Jersey will become one of the first states in the nation to send warning letters to distracted drivers.

Attorney General Christopher Porrino on Thursday announced the warning letters as part of an initiative to expand the use of the #77 phone alert system in the wake of an 8 percent increase in traffic deaths last year. Previously, motorists called the number to report aggressive drivers. Now they can use it to report motorists using handheld cellphones, not paying attention or those who are impaired.

“Up to now at least trying to convince people that it’s unsafe and they shouldn’t do it, has not really been enough so we’re trying to get creative and approach it from a different angle,” says Porrino.

Callers are urged to give the make, model and license plate of the vehicle. Warning letters may be mailed to the vehicle’s owner.

Study: Distracted Driving Triples Risk Of Crash

Traffic deaths in New Jersey rose from 562 in 2015 to 604 in 2016, mainly because of distracted driving.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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