Law enforcement taking part in National Distracted Driving Awareness Month

LANSING — In support of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April, law enforcement agencies will be joining forces across the country this week to promote enforcement and awareness of state and local texting and distracted-driving laws.

This annual campaign is part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort that runs from April 8 to April 12.

According to the Michigan State Police (MSP) Criminal Justice Information Center, in 2019 there were 18,096 distracted driving crashes in Michigan, resulting in 70 fatalities. Nationwide in 2019, the number of fatalities linked to driver distraction was 3,142, or nearly nine percent of all fatalities that year. This included 566 non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others) killed in crashes involving a distracted driver.

“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.”

Also, continuing through April 26, researchers from Michigan State University will be working with police agencies in Kent and Wayne counties 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 alert drivers to the highly visible enforcement. Researchers seek to determine if targeted safety messages have any measurable impact on driver behavior.

“Distracted driving, and cell phone use specifically, continue to be significant traffic safety concerns nationwide,” said Dr. Peter Savolainen, MSU Foundation Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “This project aims to assess the effectiveness of high-visibility enforcement, in combination with different types of messages that discourage cell phone use by drivers.”

Participating law enforcement agencies are the Detroit Police Department, MSP Second District, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Rapids Police Department, Wyoming PD, MSP Sixth District, and Kent County Sheriff’s Office. They will conduct up to 1,000 hours of distracted driving enforcement.

Kent and Wayne counties were selected to participate because of their high number of fatal and serious injury crashes. From 2016 to 2018, there were 188 fatal or serious injury distracted driving crashes in Wayne County and 128 in Kent County, the two highest in the state.

Michigan law prohibits a driver from reading, manually typing or sending a text message while driving. Exceptions are in place for reporting crashes, crimes, or other emergencies.

The research project is supported with federal traffic safety funds provided by the United States Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and enforcement will be coordinated by the OHSP.

Cassopolis

Community members speak out against ‘culture of bullying’ at Cassopolis Public Schools

Cass County

Cass County commissioners approve sidewalk leveling, cleaning contract

Dowagiac

Community rebuilds Little Free Library dedicated to late sister following vandalism incidents

News

Niles bicycle shop to host Pride Ride

Buchanan

Berrien Springs woman dies when vehicle collides with semi in Buchanan

Berrien County

Berrien County Board of Commissioners to resume in-person meetings July 1

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 893,002 cases, 19,598 deaths

Cass County

Dowagiac man, daughter injured in Newberg Township crash

Berrien County

Michigan 4-H eliminates participation fee

Berrien County

Michigan Works! announces new Jobs NOW hotline

Berrien County

Gov. Whitmer announces state will open to full capacity on June 22

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Fire Department to host corn and sausage roast fundraiser

Cass County

Cass County Tractor Pullers to host fundraiser for cancer patients

Berrien County

Spectrum Health, Beaumont Health take first step toward creating new health system

Cassopolis

Local law enforcement hosts Bike with a Cop event in Cassopolis

Cass County

As residents begin summer construction projects, county urges them to take preventative steps against erosion

News

Local EAA chapter to host 34th pancake breakfast fly-in

News

Monday night music coming to The NODE

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 892,830 cases, 19,578 deaths

Dowagiac

Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce hosts ribbon tying ceremony for Diva’s Fashion and More

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Police Log: June 11-16

Edwardsburg

May, M-62 intersection to get new design

News

Niles history mural coming to downtown parking lot

Dowagiac

Lyons Reading Fund donates more than 400 books to Dowagiac Middle School students