Traffic Crashes, Deaths Increased In 2013

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2013 was worse than 2012 when it comes to the number of accidents and traffic deaths in Michigan--15 more deaths and 15,170 more accidents.

"It's a number that people care very deeply about. It's always very disappointing when the number goes up," said Anne Readett, from the Office of Highway Safety Planning. "We recognize that these are people we are talking about, they are not crashes and numbers."

The state is part of a national trend--more fatalities involving drunk driving, large trucks, bikers and pedestrians.

"As we put more people on bikes and walking, we know that that can increase risks," said Readett.

The Office of Highway Safety Planning will look more closely at the cause, so it can help lower those numbers. The statistics were announced Friday afternoon.

Interestingly the number of crashes involving cell phones is down 8 percent from last year, although some people wonder whether that's accurate.

"We suspect that's under reported but we really don't know by how much," said Readett.

That's because aside from talking with witnesses or requesting phone records, officers can't prove someone was on their phone when a crash happens.

"People are probably not going to say, 'Yep I was texting.' My sense is you see a lot of people texting on the road or making phone calls. It's hard to imagine how you can be safe and doing that while you drive," said John Dougherty, who lives in Okemos.

"The most important things people can do: drive sober and buckle up," said Readett.

The Office said if more people will do that, hundreds of lives will be saved each year.

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