After tragedy, Dearborn aiming to curb reckless driving in the city

Posted at 2:20 PM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 19:04:29-05

(WXYZ) — Over the years, road safety has become a major concern for people in Dearborn. From speeding to road fatalities, the city has become a hot spot for traffic-related incidents.

In fact, last year alone Dearborn Police issued close to 2,800 speeding tickets.

So what is driving this dangerous trend and what's being done about it?

When you're on Bingham Street in Dearborn, at first, it might seem like any other peaceful neighborhood in the city, but on Nov. 7 last year, 6-year-old Batoul lost her life in a hit-and-run accident.

Surveillance video from that day shows Batoul getting a ball from underneath a parked car, and as she made her way back across the street to her grandma’s house, she was struck by an oncoming vehicle.

"It’s a pain that's going to be inside my heart till death," said Haider Alfadwai.

Alfadwai is Batoul's father and says his life will never be the same.

"When I see her brothers and sisters playing, I imagine her playing," he said.

After three months, the accident still haunts Alfadwai, preventing him to resume his work as a truck driver.

He says he misses so much about her. "Everything about her is beautiful," said Alfadwai.

Another resident, Ara Laraji, has been living in Dearborn for nearly 20 years, and she too is worried, especially for her niece and nephew.

"Anyone of my family, I'm not supposed to let them go out of the house, either they go out with us, or no one is allowed to be in the street," said Laraji.

Dearborn Police’s Daniel Bartok says the department has always focused on keeping the community safe, but recent events has made road safety a bigger priority.

"We have a dedicated traffic unit now, in addition to that, our officers are being redeployed into the neighborhoods to focus on hazardous violations," said Bartok.

Dearborn has a total of 190 police officers; we went on a ride along to see firsthand how the new unit is functioning with Officer Mohammed Farhat, who grew up in the city.

"The number of reckless driver complaints reduced since the traffic unit was created, but it's not permanent. We are waiting to see how summertime is going to be," said Farhat.

Statistically, during the winter most violations occur between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and then later at night. But during the summer, speeding incidents surge, especially among the youth.

"That’s something we would like the parents to be involved as well, to have their sons and daughters to be more accountable as well," said Bartok.

We reached out to the city to hear about their plans and in an official statement to 7 Action News, the newly elected Mayor, Abdullah Hammoud, says: “We will be adopting a whole-of-government approach to treat hazardous driving as a public health issue. That means enhancing cooperation between departments and thinking innovatively about our traffic infrastructure and public education campaigns.”

Meanwhile, back on the streets, Officer Farhat is monitoring Ford Road like a hawk. Equipped with gadgets, including this laser speed gun, aiming to put the brakes on reckless drivers.

"This car I'm going to stop right now it was going at 66, passing all cars and when he saw me, he slowed down," said Officer Farhat.

The driver of the blue Ford was found to have prior speeding violations.

"So I’m going to issue her a ticket now," he said.

With one less driver to worry about, Officer Farhat cruised towards Oakland and Haggerty, one of the hot spots for speeders. And within 5 minutes of our arrival ...

"I’m going to stop him, that was too fast," said Officer Farhat.

The driver of a van was traveling 9 miles over the speed limit.

"Driving a big van like that going 34, someone backing out of their driveway. It can be a bad accident," he said. But thanks to a clean driving record, the motorist drove off with only a warning.

City officials say this is not something that can be fixed overnight, so they plan to introduce more initiatives to make roads here safer for everyone.