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MARQUETTE– Hands on the wheel, eyes and mind on the road and you’re ready to drive as you please. But, disregard one of those tasks and you could be a distracted driver.
“Distracted driving is anything that diverts the drivers attention away from driving,” said Undersheriff Dan Willey, Marquette County Sheriff’s Office. “It could be talking on your telephone, changing the channel on the radio, texting which is definitely against the law in Michigan.”
Local 3’s Rebecca Bartelme rode along with Deputy Dean Rushford to get his take on what he sees on Marquette County roads.
“Not paying attention to the speed,” said Rushford. “Maybe on their phone. That is a huge distraction when it comes to crashes. That’s probably the leading cause of a lot of accidents right now is people not paying attention. A lot of crashes at stop signs and yield signs because they’re not watching what’s going on ahead of them. I’ve had people eating. I’ve had people doing healthcare, shaving, putting on makeup or doing their hair.”
According to Michigan law, for a first offense of texting and driving, motorists are fined $100. Subsequent offenses cost $200. But because distracted driving can be considered many things law enforecement can issue citations based on inattentive driving or careless driving. Because distracted driving is becoming more common, one big question that Deputy Rushford asks following crash is why it happened.
“And now I’m starting to get a bigger picture that they weren’t quite paying attention to what they were doing at the time of the crash,” said Rushford.
It may not seem like it, but the sheriff’s office says a couple of seconds of distraction while driving is more than you think.
“A lot of times it takes your eyes off the road for like five seconds and if you’re traveling at 55 miles an hour you can travel the length of a football field without actually looking at the road,” said Willey.