ELKO - April is National Distracted Driving Month and the Nevada Highway Patrol will be implementing a zero-tolerance enforcement period this week, April 22 - 26, as a strict traffic safety initiative to hopefully curtail the use of hand-held phones while motorists are driving.

Troopers around the Silver State are still continuing to observe motorists texting, talking, and reading non-voice communications despite the fact this behavior became illegal more than 15 months ago.

In 2012, the Nevada Highway Patrol issued 12,275 citations statewide to motorists observed breaking this law. There were 32 motorists who received a second citation last year and 25 of those same motorists were cited a third time for ignoring the law.

The enforcement activity for the first quarter of 2013 appears to be similar to last year's statistics. There have been 2,851 citations already issued statewide during the first three months of this year.

Talking or texting on a cell while operating a motor vehicle is a preventable crime. We are asking everyone to help make our highways safer by refraining from this activity or adapting to a hands-free type device if telephonic communication becomes necessary.

In an effort to create more awareness to this frequently observed illegal activity, we are announcing an upcoming initiate in advance to all motorists.

Troopers will be participating in a zero-tolerance enforcement week April 22-26, and any motorist observed breaking this law will be cited.

The fine for a first time offense is approximately $112, with a second offense costing nearly $192 and third and subsequent offenses within a seven-year period averaging about $350. Additionally, there are four demerit points assessed against one's driver's license if convicted on a second and subsequent offense. To avoid receiving a citation, please consider the following safety tips:

• Turn off your phone or put it out of reach while driving.

• Adapt to a hands-free type device and discipline yourself to always use it.

• Don't call or text anyone at a time when you think they may be driving.

• Don't look at your phone to read or send an e-mail or text message even when stopped in traffic while waiting for a traffic signal light to cycle. (This is probably where we see the most violations occur).

• Don't even hold your phone to look at the time or to scroll to your next contact.