2017-04-20 / Community

Troopers to focus enforcement efforts on distracted driving

LANSING – Michigan motorists are reminded that one text or call could wreck it all during national Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April. For the first time, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning is supporting distracted driving enforcement activity for more than 170 law enforcement agencies receiving federal traffic safety funds.

Troopers at the St. Ignace Post will be focusing enforcements efforts on distracted driving in support of the national campaign. Distracted driving has increased in the area in the past several years and has been the contributing factor in accidents. Distracted driving enforcement initiatives have been developed to address problem areas on US-2 as well as the Mackinac Bridge.

“Many law enforcement agencies recognize that distracted driving is a serious concern in their communities,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “It’s vital that drivers keep their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”

Reducing smartphone use is especially daunting. Dr. David Greenfield from the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction spoke at the recent Michigan Traffic Safety Summit and said cell phone technology has clearly become addictive behavior.

“Dopamine, the pleasure neuro-chemical in the reward system of our brain, is one reason we feel the need to check on our smart phone so often. When those notifications go off on your phone, you feel compelled to pick it up,” Greenfield said.

According to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center, there were 7,516 crashes in Michigan during 2015 involving distracted driving, resulting in 28 fatalities and 3,472 injuries. Cell phones were involved in 753 crashes, with three fatalities and 377 injuries.

To help encourage drivers to remain attentive to the driving task, the OHSP has distributed banners to all law enforcement agencies and high schools across the state. Teen drivers are especially vulnerable to distractions.

Michigan law prohibits a driver from reading, manually typing, or sending a text message while driving. Driving is defined as: operating a moving motor vehicle on a street or highway. Exceptions are in place for reporting crashes, crimes or other emergencies.

Michigan law prohibits Level 1 and Level 2 license holders under the Graduated Driver Licensing program from using a cell phone while driving.

• Violations are a civil infraction and fees and may be up to $240.

• No points are assessed on a driving record.

• Exceptions are in place for reporting crashes, crimes, medical emergencies, serious road hazards, and situations where a person believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy.

• Voice-operated systems integrated into the vehicle are exempt

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