Contact: Jim Santilli, CEO, (248) 334-4971
STERLING HEIGHTS, Michigan, April 23, 2023 – In recognition of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Michigan motorists are reminded to avoid distractions while driving.
Law enforcement officers from the Michigan State Police, county sheriff’s offices, and local police departments will begin conducting Operation Ghost Rider on Monday. The goal is to reduce distracted driving deaths and injuries. This lifesaving initiative is coordinated by the Transportation Improvement Association (TIA) and funded by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP).
“Distracted driving continues to be a top traffic safety concern on our roads,” said Jim Santilli, CEO of TIA and chairman of the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commissions’ Distracted Driving Action Team. “We can save lives by simply keeping our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel at all times. We hope Operation Ghost Rider will further educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving.”
Operation Ghost Rider uses unmarked spotter vehicles, which contain a law enforcement passenger. When the spotters observe a distracted driver, they radio a fully marked law enforcement unit to initiate a traffic stop.
“Distracted driving crashes are 100 percent preventable. As drivers, we must do better,” said F/Lt. Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police. “We will continue to educate motorists and hope that personal accountability will help decrease distracted driving. But we also know enforcement is key.”
Participating agencies include the Auburn Hills Police Department, Chesterfield Township Police Department, Clinton Township Police Department, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Shelby Township Police Department, Sterling Heights Police Department, Taylor Police Department, and Utica Police Department.
Drivers who use a hand-held device are 4 times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
“On average, a driver takes their eyes off the road for 5 seconds to send or read a text,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. “At 55 mph, that’s equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”
According to TIA, preliminary numbers for 2022 indicate 57 persons were killed and 5,905 were injured in 15,441 motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in the state of Michigan.