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Michigan motor vehicle accident deaths are higher in 2016. This is what the MSP are doing about it

October 21, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

During Operation Safe Driver Week (October 16-22) Michigan State Police will ramp up enforcement of unsafe commercial truck and car drivers – but are they missing the bigger point?


Michigan car accident deaths are up this year compared to last, according to the Michigan State Police traffic crash facts:

  • 25 people died in car and truck accidents on Michigan roadways since last week, making a total of 805 people killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2016.
  • 178 more were seriously injured, for a statewide total of 4,017 auto accident injuries to date.
  • Compared to last year at this time, there are 34 more fatalities and 251 more serious injuries.

What’s the Michigan State Police doing about the spike in vehicular injuries and fatalities?

The Michigan State Police are ramping up their own traffic safety enforcement aimed at unsafe drivers of commercial trucks and cars. Coined, “Operation Safe Driver Week” the extra enforcement runs October 16-22, 2016.

The Michigan State Police saw a nearly 20% reduction in fatal crashes involving commercial trucks and buses due to same the efforts last year, said Capt. Michael Krumm, commander of the MSP Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division in a published statement, adding that the goal is “moving Michigan Toward Zero Deaths (TZD).”

Our attorneys certainly support these efforts.  And we applaud the goal of preventing serious car and truck accidents.

But I do see one problem with the way the MSP is doing things. Announcing the dates ahead of time for a safety blitz aimed at unsafe truckers and drivers is like telling a class the date for a pop quiz ahead of time.

It’s the same problem I’ve had as an attorney and safety advocate with truck inspections. In my past blog posts about the annual CVSA RoadCheck (Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance), I’ve expressed the same concerns about the announcement of the three-day annual safety inspections of trucks and other commercial motor vehicles that’s aimed at finding truck drivers who are driving under the influence of dangerous or illegal drugs and alcohol, as well as unsafe and out-of-service trucks on our roads.

If you’re a cocaine-snorting truck driver, you call in sick during these three days. If you’re a company safety manager and you know full well that some trucks in your fleet are dangerous and will be found out-of-service, you keep those trucks in the yard.

If you’re a student who isn’t ready for a pop quiz that you know is coming up, you skip school that day.

Safety inspections are important. They  will certainly prevent serious motor vehicle crashes. But by announcing these inspection dates ahead of time, the MSP and Roadcheck give the trucking companies that choose to ignore the laws a chance to know ahead of time when they will be conducting inspections. And as an attorney, I know what happens next. Again, they take their most dangerous, unmaintained trucks as well as their drivers with medical conditions, substance abuse issues, or who are not properly trained, off the roads.

Announcing the dates ahead of time allows some bad actors escape being discovered, and that defeats the entire purpose of the safety inspections.

Operation Safe Driver Week is sponsored by the CVSA in partnership with government, industry and safety organizations.

In addition, “Toward Zero Deaths” unites stakeholders throughout the U.S. from engineering, enforcement, education and emergency medical services, with the common goal of reducing traffic fatalities to zero.

Nationwide in 2013, there were 3,964 people who died in large truck accident crashes and 310 people who died in bus accident crashes. Many of those crashes were the direct result of driver error – both truck and bus drivers, as well as the passenger-vehicle drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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