Nearly 1,600 motorists were cited for distracted driving violations in April as part stepped up campaign by Maryland State Police to raise awareness of the dangers of texting or using a handheld phone while driving.

In all, Maryland State Police issued 1,595 citations and an additional 1,187 warnings statewide. Drivers in Wicomico County received the most citations, 229, followed by Prince George’s County with 224 citations and 138 warnings.

In Montgomery County, 184 citations and 71 warnings were issued; troopers issued 93 citations and 69 warnings in Howard and 96 citations and 58 warnings in Anne Arundel.  Among the most common violations: texting while driving and using a handheld phone while driving.

Gov. Martin O’Malley recently sign a bill known as “Jake’s Law” to stiffen penalties for drivers who cause serious crashes while talking or texting on a handheld cellphone. The legislation was filed in memory of Jake Owen, a 5-year-old killed in a 2011 crash.

May is Occupant Safety and Awareness month and so state troopers will This month, troopers will be focused on seat belt and child safety seat laws on Maryland roads.