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Michigan State Police seeing increase in crashes involving distracted drivers

ST. JOSEPH, Mich.--April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Michigan State Police have increased patrols dedicated to identifying distracted drivers.

During a special patrol in St. Joseph, Michigan on April 15, MSP Trooper Joe Cook discussed the growing problem.

“We’re having a lot of issues with people texting, getting sidetracked on their phones, dogs in people’s laps, eating, putting on makeup, reading,” Cook said.

Cook says he's seeing a lot more issues than even just a few years ago.

Distracted driving kills. In 2016 in the state of Michigan, 43 fatalities resulted from crashes involving distracted drivers. The number increased in 2017 to 72 deaths.

Number of crashes involving distracted driving in the state of Michigan. Data courtesy of Michigan State Police.

Police are reminding Michigan residents of the laws surrounding distracted driving. It is illegal in the state of Michigan to manually type, read or send a text message while driving.

“Basically distracted driving is a civil infraction; you’ll be cited for carelessness. A lot of times when you’re distracted, you’ll go over the center line, you’ll go over the fog line, things of that nature, you’ll be cited for being careless,” Cook said.

The extra patrols are funded by a grant from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. The organization is also running a social media campaign centered around #JustDrive.

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