Kent County participates in distracted driving study

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers in Kent and Wayne counties will see roadside signs that will display new electronic messages to enforce distracted driving.

The signs are part of research being done by Michigan State University and several police agencies. It starts Monday and will go through Oct. 19.

Up to 1,000 hours of distracted driving enforcement will be conducted during the two-week period.

“Distracted driving, and cell phone use specifically, continue to be significant traffic safety concerns nationwide,” said Dr. Peter Savolainen with MSU. “This project aims to assess the effectiveness of high visibility enforcement, in combination with different types of messages that discourage cell phone use by drivers.”

Several police agencies will be participating in the research: The Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police Second District, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Wyoming Police Department, the MSP Sixth District and the Kent County Sheriff’s Department.

Kent and Wayne counties were chosen to participate because they had the most crashes that resulted in fatalities or serious injuries. Wayne County had 188 fatal or serious injury crashes between 2016 and 2018. Kent County had 128.

This research is part of a nationwide project sponsored by the National Safety Council.

The study will be done again from April 5, 2021 through April 26, 2021.