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West Michigan police attempt to curb rising road fatalities by pulling over more speeding drivers

According to recent data by the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center, deadly crashes in Michigan have reached a 16-year high.

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — You may see more patrol deputies on the roads this week because law enforcement agencies are participating in a statewide traffic safety campaign.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started more than two years ago, agencies have been seeing more aggressive driving and speeding, even though there were fewer cars on the roads.

According to recent data by the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center, deadly crashes in Michigan have reached a 16-year high. There were 1,131 in 2021 compared 1,129 deaths in 2005.  

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office is one of dozens of agencies participating in "Great Lakes, High Stakes" program, which is made possible through a partnership between the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Region 5 Office.

The agency will be patrolling subdivisions to interstates to everything in-between. 

"Right now, that's what one of our largest call volumes into dispatch is a traffic-related issue. Nine times out of ten times it's a speeding vehicle," said Sgt. Mike Vandenbosch with Traffic Services. 

So far this year, the agency has investigated 13 deadly crashes, which is consistent with this time last year.

And in 2021, there were 25 deadly crashes, up 48% from 13 in 2020.

Credit: WZZM 13

Alcohol and drugs generally account for 40 to 45% of speeding in crashes.

"There's a trend lately, too," said Vandenbosch. "We're starting to see little bit less alcohol involved and more drugs involved on the roadways and a mix of the two, which is kind of scary."

Vandenbosch stresses that the goal of the campaign is to save lives.

"It has nothing to do with tickets or warnings. It's just getting out there and having our officers interact and educate the motoring public." 

Michigan State Police's Wayland Post is also participating in the campaign which started on June 18 and will last through June 26.


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