U Drive. U Text. U Pay.
By Jim Newell
In Michigan in 2019 there were 18,096 distracted driving crashes, resulting in 70 fatalities.
To help reduce those numbers, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is joining forces with other law enforcement agencies across the country to mark April as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
Lt. Dan Toth, commander of the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Orion Township Substation, said deputies will rev up enforcement and education about distracted driving.
“April is distracted driving month. We will be participating in additional enforcement and education efforts because distracted driving is fast becoming one of the leading causes of serious injury and death while behind the wheel,” Toth said.
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 fine for a first offense is $100. The fine doubles to $200 for subsequent offenses.
“Please set a good example, especially with young people and children in your vehicle. Stay safe everyone,” Toth said.
During National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility campaign, law enforcement officers nationwide will be looking for drivers texting or using their phones behind the wheel.
Millennials are the biggest offenders when it comes to texting while driving, with more 16- to 24-year-olds handling phones while driving than any other age group, according to the NHTSA.
We understand the temptation, but there are other times to respond to notifications on your phone than to do it while you’re driving. First, pull over to a safe location, and then send your message.
Some distracted driving statistics:
In Michigan in 2019, October was the month with the most distracted driving crashes (1,800).
In Michigan in 2019, Friday was the day with the most distracted driving crashes (3,099).
In Michigan in 2019, the hour from 5-6 p.m. accounted for more distracted driving crashes (1,738) than any other hour.
According to the NHTSA, 3,142 people were killed nationwide in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2019.
An estimated 400,000 people were injured and 2,841 people were killed nationwide in distracted driving crashes in 2018.
Women are more likely than men to text and drive.
Forty-eight states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers; 25 states and territories prohibit drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving; and 39 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands ban cell phone use by teen or novice drivers.
(Information from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Dept. of Transportation)
On the road with friends? Designate your passenger as your “designated texter” to help keep everyone safe.
Reduce distraction by silencing your phone while driving.
Do not scroll through apps, including social media, while driving. Cell phone use can be habit-forming.
Struggling to not text and drive? Activate your phone’s “Do Not Disturb” feature, or put your cell phone in the trunk, glove box or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination.
Speak up when a driver uses an electronic device behind the wheel. Offer to make the call for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the road.
Always wear your seat belt. Seat belts are your best defense against unsafe drivers.
Be alert for pedestrians and cyclists, especially those who may themselves be distracted.