Michigan traffic fatalities up 10 percent

Posted at 5:50 PM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-09 19:30:38-04

Traffic deaths increased 10 percent in Michigan in 2015 after trending downward in recent years. 

963 people died as a result of accidents on Michigan roads, 87 more than in 2014. That statistic is concerning to local law enforcement.

"Is it surprising? Somewhat," said Oakland County Undersheriff Mike McCabe of the double-digit increase in fatalities. "It's not shocking given that people are out driving more miles and when more miles are driven, unfortunately, more accidents are happening." 

According to Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Center statistics, the largest increase in fatalities came among bicyclists--up 57 percent.

Motorcyclist deaths were up 29 percent last year with 138 fatalities, compared to 107 in 2014.

Other significant findings from the annual report involve alcohol-involved traffic deaths, up 19 percent to 303 in 2015, compared to 236 the year before.

"That's a shocker to us because they've been gradually going down and it's definitely a concern," said McCabe.

So too is distracted driving. Cell-phone involved crashes are up by double-digits, increasing 13 percent from 2014.

"They're either dialing the phone or they're texting or they're talking on the phone," McCabe said of drivers his deputies interact with daily.  "It has become a huge problem and police agencies across Michigan are enforcing the no-texting as best you can."

McCabe said most drivers do not talk hands free when using cell phones. California and Ontario, Canada require that practice, according to McCabe. 

The total number of vehicle crashes is down slightly in 2015 but there were more injuries as well as the increase in fatalities.

Click here to see the complete report from Michigan State Police.