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Department News

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

Driving? Put down that phone!

Law enforcement urging distracted drivers to remember:

U Drive. U Text. U Pay.

The Gerrish Township Police Department 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. This 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.

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.

We all know the dangers associated with distracted driving. Whether it’s eating and drinking behind the wheel, using GPS, talking to other vehicle passengers, or using the cell phone, it’s all dangerous when you’re driving.

“We are determined to impress upon these drivers: Keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.”

Violating Michigan’s distracted-driving laws can be costly. 1st Violation is $100, 2nd subsequent violation is $200 and a violation while holding a Level 1 or Level 2 license is a civil infraction with a fine up to $240.

An analysis by the AAA Foundation of 2009-2012 data found that while more than 80 percent of drivers believed it was completely unacceptable for a motorist to text behind the wheel, more than a third of those same drivers admitted to reading text messages while operating a passenger motor vehicle themselves.

People know texting and driving is dangerous and illegal, but they do it anyway, and it puts others at risk.  Beginning April 8, you will see increased law enforcement efforts, as officers will be stopping and ticketing anyone who is caught texting and driving. And we are not trying to rack up citations — we are trying to save lives.

“If you text and drive, you will pay.”

Drive Safe Every Trip

The Gerrish Township Police Department and NHTSA urge you to put your phone down when you get behind the wheel. If you need to text, then pull over and do not drive. If you’re driving, follow these steps for a phone-free experience:

  • 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.

Texting while driving is dangerous and illegal. Break the cycle. Remember: U Drive. U Text. U Pay.