Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday launched a new initiative aimed at discouraging teen drivers from texting while they navigate the state's often congested roadways.

Surrounded by Hartford high school students at a downtown theater, Malloy said too many teens are dying because of texting and driving.

"The reality is drivers 16 to 19 years old are four times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident," Malloy said. "In the next year, 400,000 will be injured as a result of distracted driving and 7,000 will be in Connecticut.

"We can do something about it. Put down that phone. Stop texting and pay attention. Let's be safe out there."

Connecticut has already passed prohibitions against using a cellphone while driving, and new laws adopted this year ban using a cellphone while at a stop sign or a temporary standstill. Fines also were increased.

Some of that legislative activity came after Kenneth Dorsey, 44, of Norwalk, was killed last year when a teenage New Canaan driver struck him while operating a cellphone.

A new state campaign, run with the help of AT&T, is being launched to educate young drivers. Dubbed "It Can Wait," the program and accompanying video will be offered in schools.

The state also is renewing its annual video contest in which high schools compete for $15,000 in prizes for the best public service announcement.

"We know the dangers -- and the consequences -- of distracted driving, particularly for inexperienced drivers," state Attorney General George Jepsen said. "But all drivers, young or old, need to obey the law when it comes to electronic devices.

"Remember, nothing you have to say is worth risking your life or (the life of) others."