Editor’s note: The following editorial was written by Jon Ross, Senior Editor at the Office of Highway Safety Planning of the Michigan State Police in Lansing.

Distracted driving crashes in Michigan continue to rise. Michigan saw a 57 percent increase in distracted driving crashes and a 67 percent increase in fatalities from those crashes from 2016 to 2017, according to the Michigan State Police (MSP) Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC). That’s why law enforcement agencies around the state are participating in a nationwide distracted driving mobilization period from April 11-15, in the middle of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

According to the MSP CJIC, there were 20,115 crashes in Michigan during 2017 involving distracted driving, resulting in 72 fatalities. In 2016, there were 12,788 distracted driving crashes resulting in 43 fatalities.

To help encourage drivers to remain attentive to the task of driving, the OHSP has distributed materials to every law enforcement agency across the state. On April 11, to kick off the five day mobilization period, agencies across the state will be patrolling looking for distracted drivers.

Michigan law prohibits a driver from reading, manually typing, or sending a text message while driving. Driving is defined as: operating a moving motor vehicle on a street or highway. Exceptions are in place for reporting crashes, crimes or other emergencies.