MICHIGAN — Law enforcement agencies across the country – including in Michigan – are joining forces this month in support of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
The goal of the annual campaign is to promote enforcement and awareness of state and local texting and distracted-driving laws, a news release said Wednesday.
It’s also part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” effort.
Michigan State Police’s Criminal Justice Information Center says there were more than 18,000 crashes causes by distracted driving in the state in 2019.
“Any activity that takes your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel is extremely reckless and puts you and others on the road at risk,” said Michael L. Prince, Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning director. “Whether it’s texting, eating, drinking, using GPS or talking to other passengers, it’s all dangerous while driving.”
Researchers from Michigan State University will also be working with police agencies in Kent and Wayne counties through April 26 to evaluate methods of enforcing distracted driving and cell phone use violations.
During the three-week period, dynamic message signs will be used off-and-on to let drivers know about the enforcement.
Researchers want to know if targeted safety messages have any measurable impact on driver behavior.
Kent and Wayne counties were selected to participate because of their high number of fatal and serious injury crashes. Between 2016 and 2018, Kent County saw 128 such crashes.
Participating law enforcement agencies are the Detroit Police Department, MSP Second District, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Rapids Police Department, Wyoming Police Department, MSP Sixth District and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.
Michigan law prohibits a driver from reading, manually typing or sending text messages while driving.
Exceptions are made for reporting crashes, crimes or other emergencies.