Ingham County Sheriff’s Office intensifying patrols for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 11:32 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - If you happen to see more police officers around Ingham County on the road recently, that’s no mistake.

The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office will be joining forces across the country this week to intensify enforcement of state and local texting and distracted-driving laws, and to raise awareness about the dangers — and legal implications — of distracted driving.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and the annual campaign is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national U Drive. U Text. U Pay. high-visibility enforcement effort that runs from April 8 to April 12, 2021.

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

According to MSP, over the years, millennials have become some of the biggest texting-while-driving offenders, also using their cell phones to talk and scroll through social media while behind the wheel. According to NHTSA, young drivers 16- to 24-years-old have been observed using handheld electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers since 2007. In fact, in 2019, nine percent of people killed in teen-driving crashes (ages 15-19) died when teen drivers were distracted at the time of the crash. Female drivers are most at-risk for being involved in a fatal crash involving a distracted driver.

“Distracted driving continues to be a significant public safety issue. Minimizing the impact to our community remains a priority with the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office. Please keep your eyes up and your phone down,” said Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth.

The Ingham County Sheriff’s Office provided some tips on how you can prevent yourself from being pulled over and getting hit with a hefty fine.

  • If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text.
  • Designate your passenger as your “designated texter.” Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages.
  • Do not engage in social media scrolling or messaging while driving.
  • Cell phone use can be habit-forming. Struggling to not text and drive? Put the cell phone out of reach in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of the vehicle until you arrive at your destination.

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