ENFORCEMENT TO BEGIN FOR NATIONAL DISTRACTED DRIVING AWARENESS MONTH
Contact: Jim Santilli, CEO, (248) 334-4971
MACOMB, Michigan, March 15, 2019 – The Transportation Improvement Association (TIA), State Farm, Michigan State Police, and county and local law enforcement joined forces with students at Dakota High School to announce a statewide distracted driving education and enforcement initiative today. The campaign coincides with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, which takes place in April.
Through a $30,600 grant provided by State Farm, TIA recently challenged Michigan high school students to design a distracted driving awareness billboard.
Nearly 50 innovative designs were judged by a selection committee consisting of law enforcement and transportation leaders.
The selection committee chose a design created by Anna Hunyor, a student at Dakota High School. The design, which is titled “Don’t Text and Die,” was selected because the danger of distracted driving is communicated in a short, creative message.
“Nationally, 94% of crashes are caused by human choice and error,” said Jim Santilli, CEO of TIA. “As drivers, we need to value all lives by keeping our eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. We truly appreciate Anna Hunyor, a great Dakota High School student, helping us to increase distracted driving awareness throughout the state of Michigan. Furthermore, we are thankful State Farm generously supports this initiative each year.”
Hunyor’s design will be seen throughout the state of Michigan during National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. More than 11 million impressions will be made.
“Each of us as drivers have the ability to end distracted driving by committing to limit distractions behind the wheel,” stated Col. Joe Gasper, director of the Michigan State Police. “I commend the TIA and our student honoree, Anna Hunyor, for their efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving.”
Ron Roberts, the superintendent of Chippewa Valley Schools, stated distracted driving is a serious concern that can have devastating consequences.
“When we learned that one of our Dakota High School students was selected for such an important award we were really proud,” said Roberts. “By having her art design featured on billboards throughout the state, Anna Hunyor is using her creative talent to provide education and awareness that can save a life. This is just another example of how young people can make a difference by being a part of the solution.”
According to TIA, preliminary numbers for 2018 indicate 75 persons were killed and 7,208 were injured in 18,922 motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in the state of Michigan.
“Having our newest drivers engaged in the design of this messaging helps connect the dangerous dots of bad driving habits,” said David Arce, a State Farm agent. “State Farm is happy to continuously support such an important message.”
In addition to distracted driving education, TIA is working with law enforcement agencies to schedule enforcement initiatives to reduce distracted driving on Michigan’s roadways.
The Michigan State Police, Macomb County Sheriff’s Office, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Auburn Hills Police Department, Clinton Township Police Department, Shelby Township Police Department, and numerous other agencies throughout the state will begin conducting Operation Ghost Rider during April. The goal is to reduce distracted driving deaths and injuries.
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.
Operation Ghost Rider was revealed at a press conference in Macomb County during 2017. During a total of 18 hours of enforcement, law enforcement officers conducted more than 907 traffic stops resulting in 726 citations and 34 arrests. In 2018, 49 officers stopped 530 vehicles, issued 440 citations, and made 9 arrests in a 6-hour period.
“Congratulations to Anna Hunyor for winning a competition that is designed to save lives and prevent injuries,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham. “The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office remains dedicated to ensuring everyone has a safe travel experience by routinely participating in education and enforcement efforts.”