Young woman's death sparks sheriff's office response to distract - WNEM TV 5

Young woman's death sparks sheriff's office response to distracted driving

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GRATIOT COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Distracted driving is suspected to be a factor in a fatal crash that claimed a young woman's life in Mid-Michigan.

Police in at least one county is now sending a clear message - put the phone down or get a ticket.

The Gratiot County Sheriff's Department is hoping the crackdown will help make a difference in combating the dangerous practice.

Taylor Dalian, 21, died last month when she veered off US-127 near St. Charles Road and crashed into a guardrail.

Her death grabbed the sheriff's department's attention who launched a new campaign to stop distracted driving.

Dalian was a senior at Central Michigan University.

"I was horrified that it was a senior in college. She had her entire life to go," said Chad Moore, resident.

Police said Dalian may have been distracted by her phone.

"It's just senseless. People shouldn't be doing it," said John Parker, truck driver.

Her death resonated with Gratiot County Sheriff Doug Wright. He said the department is no longer issuing warnings for distracted driving, but instead ticketing those who don't have their eyes on the road.

It is a problem Parker sees way too often.

"A lot of people swerving. I look at cars coming by and out of 10 cars probably six to eight usually have their hands on their phones texting or trying to dial the phone or something," Parker said.

Wednesday was the first day of the crackdown with four officers in two unmarked vehicles. They issued six tickets in a span of two hours.

Those tickets are $100 for the first offense and $200 for every offense after.

Parker said the crackdown is necessary, but doesn't think it will be enough to get some behind the wheel to put their phones down.

"They're still gonna do it. I don't know what to say. I've been driving trucks for almost 30 years and in the last five years it's gotten really bad," Parker said.

Wright said they plan on continuing to issue tickets to those who are texting and driving.

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