Deadly pile-up makes I-94 safety a focal point

Posted at 7:02 PM, Jan 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-19 19:01:56-05

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — The pile-up on I-94 January 9 were some of the largest in Michigan history. Now, State Police are looking to make those roads safer by rebooting the Kalamazoo County I-94 traffic initiative; targeting aggressive and distracted drivers using cameras to stop and ticket anyone texting while driving.

State Police Squad Sergeant, David Vanlopik, said this initiative will help reduce the number of crashes along I-94.

“People see a police car and they just naturally slow down and start paying attention to their driving,” said Sgt. Vanlopki.

Initially designed for summer months, the Kalamazoo County I-94 Traffic initiative began in 2013, but was discontinued due to staffing issues. Now, State Police are able to put more officers on the interstate to monitor aggressive driving, speeding and tailgating.

After the fatal and fiery crashes on I-94 leaving one dead and many others injured, police have decided to reinstate this initiative. According to State Police, since the implementation of this initiative, the amount of car crashes has been reduced.

They’re also using unmarked cars to video tape distracted drivers, sending uniform police to stop and ticket anyone texting on the road.

“We’re going to try and get some plain clothes cars out there to video tape texting and have uniform cops stop those people,” said Vanlopik. “It’s a very dangerous situation when you’re texting, especially when you’re texting at those high speeds.”

Paul Matyas, Undersheriff at the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department, said his department is ready to send officers for help when they’re needed.

“There’s nothing like a ticket where you’re shelling out of your pocket,” said Matyas.

Matyas believes dangerous driving is a behavioral issue, saying people could lose their license if the behavior doesn’t change.

State police said the initiative doesn’t have a start date, but could begin within the next few days.