MONTREAL -- Almost 2,000 Quebec drivers learned the lesson police and concerned motorists have been advocating for since cellphones came into existence: Stay off your phone while driving.

Police forces across the province, in collaboration with the SAAQ (Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec) and Contrôle routier Québec (CRQ), launched Operation Distraction 2021 from Sept. 10 to 16.

They handed out more than 1,900 tickets to drivers using a hand-held electronic device or tablet while driving, Quebec provincial police said in a news release.

"Using a hand-held electronic device or display screen while driving reduces a driver's attention and concentration and increases the risk of being involved in a collision," the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) said. "Distracted driving also greatly increases the risk of committing other traffic violations because you take your eyes off the road."

If caught using a phone while on the road, drivers can receive a fine, but if they cause an accident, injury or death, criminal charges could follow.

"It can go very far," said SQ spokesperson Audrey-Anne Bilodeau. "There are a lot of infractions."