U.P. law enforcement stepping up patrol for Distracted Driving Awareness Month

A push towards focusing our awareness on the road -- not to steer away from it.
Published: Apr. 8, 2021 at 7:23 PM EDT
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NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

And U.P. law enforcement will be cracking down on anyone texting or simply not paying attention behind the wheel.

It’s a push towards focusing our awareness on the road -- not to steer away from it.

“It really hits home during this month. Because this is a huge month for those crashes to occur when people are distracted. They might swerve off the roadway, onto the shoulder of the roadway and strike a pedestrian or a bicyclist,” said Lt. Mark Giannunzio, who serves as Michigan State Police’s Asst. Post Commander of the Negaunee Post and as Public Information Officer of the U.P.

The lieutenant added that extra patrols are in place as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “U Drive. U Text. U Pay.” campaign -- effective Thursday until Apr. 12.

It supports the bigger message for National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

“As an example in 2019, there were over 18,000 distracted driving crashes across the state of Michigan,” said Lt. Giannunzio.

An alarming number caused by anything from eating, tuning the radio or using the phone while driving.

Lake Superior Driving School Owner and Instructor Mark McNabb emphasizes for his students to block out any distraction behind the wheel -- especially the phone.

“Whether it’s in-dash technology, Bluetooth technology, handheld technology, please don’t pick up that phone. It takes your mind away from the road, it takes your hands out of position. It’s almost worse than drinking and driving,” McNabb explained.

“You hear of people drinking and driving and we stop that by doing what? Designating a driver. So why can’t we do designating a texter? Often (when) we’re driving, you instantly want to take a look over at the phone. And that’s hard to get that behavior to change. I feel it,” said Lt. Giannunzio.

And the lieutenant added, it’s a behavior we can change through full awareness on the road.

Learn more about Michigan’s distracted driving law HERE.

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