Plainsboro and West Windsor police will be cracking down on distracted drivers from April 1 to 21 as part of New Jersey’s “UDrive. UText. UPay.” enforcement campaign.

The high visibility law enforcement initiative will target motorists who engage in dangerous behaviors such as talking on hand-held cell phones and sending text messages while driving.

Gary Poedubicky, acting director of the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety, said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2014 alone, 3,179 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and an estimated 431,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver.

A press release issued by the West Windsor Police Department said that despite the fact that using a hand held cell phone or texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey, the practice appears to be widespread. n a recent survey conducted by the FDU PublicMind Poll for the Division of Highway Traffic Safety, 67 percent of respondents said they “very often” see people driving and talking on a hand held cell phone. 42 percent of respondents said they see driver’s texting very often.

Plainsboro

Driver hits pedestrian. A 27-year-old Plainsboro resident was charged with failure to observe a traffic control device and failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk following a crash the morning of March 16. Police said Catherine Rand failed to stop at a red light at the intersection of Plainsboro Road and Deer Park Drive and hit Avinash Kasaragadda, a 25-year-old Plainsboro resident who was in the marked crosswalk. The impact carried Kasaragadda 80 feet down the road. He was transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick with multiple broken bones, bruising, and bleeding.

Burglary. Two vehicles were burglarized in the Plainsboro Preserve parking lot on March 4 between 4 and 4:50 p.m. Four windows were shattered, causing about $1,000 of damage, and ladies’ purses with contents valued at $2,241 were stolen from the vehicles.

Warrant arrests. A March 4 motor vehicle stop for failure to maintain a lane resulted in two arrests for outstanding warrants. The driver, Jason Salamone, 40, of Iselin, had a warrant for $350 from East Rutherford. He also received numerous summonses for motor vehicle violations. Passenger Salvador Cruz, 44, of North Brunswick, was wanted for failure to appear on a drug charge in Essex County. He was held without bail at Middlesex County Adult Correction Center awaiting extradition.

West Windsor

Resisting arrest. Alexei Tarassov, 43, of West Windsor was arrested on Feb. 23 after he attempted to elude officers who said they observed him speeding on Route 1 North. The chase ended outside West Windsor Police headquarters, where police said Tarassov continued to resist arrest, physically fought with officers, and damaged the door handle of a patrol car. Tarassov was charged with eluding, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, and DWI in addition to numerous motor vehicle violations. He was transported to Mercer County Workhouse.

DWI. Leon G. White, 29, of Somerset was stopped outside Buffalo Wild Wings on Feb. 26 and found to be DWI, police said. He was issued summonses for reckless driving and failure to maintain a lane.

Theft. An employee of NRG in Carnegie Center reported on Feb. 22 that credit cards had been stolen from her purse while she was at work the previous day. She later was notified of several fraudulent charges made on those cards at WalMart and Target in the Nassau Park Center.

Identity Theft. A West Windsor resident reported on Feb. 24 that an identity monitoring service had alerted him of a suspect credit inquiry had been made to Equifax. The man learned that someone had used his personal information to apply for a Discover Card.
A West Windsor resident reported on Feb. 24 that an unknown actor had used his business logo and email address to fraudulently solicit payment from a client.

Shoplifting. Employees of Sam’s Club in the Nassau Park Center reported on March 2 that a shoplifter had left the store with stolen electronics and headed toward Wal Mart. Police say the suspect, described as a black male in his late 40s, approximately 6 feet tall and 220 pounds, is also believed to have opened boxes and concealed items in his clothing. Sam’s Club staff also believe he stole items on Feb. 27 and March 1.

Curtis E. Newsom, 49, of Trenton was arrested at Wal Mart on March 4 for failing to scan $109.45 worth of items while using the self checkout lane. Newsom was also found to have a $100 warrant from Newark and was a wanted fugitive from the NYPD. He was transported to Mercer County Workhouse.

Warrant arrests. Barrett M. Green was turned over to West Windsor Police by the state police on Feb. 16. Green had an outstanding warrant for $250 from West Windsor and was transported to Mercer County Workhouse.