The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) wants motorists to take notice of a pilot, statewide safety campaign that is starting tomorrow on Michigan highways. MDOT will display the number of traffic fatalities on Michigan roadways year to date on selected electronic signs, also known as Dynamic Message Signs (DMS). The message will be displayed one day per month along various I, M and US routes, and the campaign is scheduled to run from July through November.
“It’s a startling statistic and that’s the point,” said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. “Displaying the number of lives lost on Michigan roads can be an effective way to influence driver behavior and increase driver focus.”
As Michigan moves Toward Zero Deaths, MDOT believes it is imperative that every opportunity be taken to improve safety on Michigan roadways. Driver behavior factors into nearly 90 percent of all fatal crashes and one key to changing driver behavior is educating the public on the scope of the issue. Posting fatality messages on DMS is one simple and inexpensive way MDOT can contribute to that effort. Currently, nine states are posting fatality messages on their own DMS, including our neighbor to the southwest, Illinois. Last year, the Illinois Department of Transportation saw an increase in traffic fatalities and responded with this type of messaging.
The year-to-date traffic fatality statistics will be provided and updated by the Michigan State Police (MSP). The data will be taken directly from the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS).
“Driver error and driver behavior are the biggest challenges when it comes to the safety of our roadways,” said Michigan State Police Lieutenant Gary Megge. “If everyone could steer clear of driving distracted, drowsy, impaired or carelessly, our roads would be much safer. Displaying hard data for motorists is an eye opener that will increase awareness and focus.”
If a situation occurs where another message is deemed a higher priority than the safety message, the sign will be switched. Higher priority messages include incident messages, lane closures, shoulder closures and work zone messages.