Operation Ghost Rider: Police out in force to stop distracted driving

14,000 crashes last year involved distracted driving, police say

Police officers are going to be out on the road in force as part of an effort to enforce distracted driving laws.

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. – Police officers are going to be out on the road in force as part of an effort to enforce distracted driving laws.

Several agencies are joining together for what they’re calling “Operation Ghost Rider.”

“Ultimately our objective is today preventing and enforcing the distracted driving laws,” Sterling Heights police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said.

The initiative is being conducted by the transportation improvement association. The reason behind the enforcement is to make the roads safer.

READ: What every Michigan driver should know about distracted driving

“There’s so many accidents that occur statewide involving people texting and being on their phone and being distracted from driving,” Bastianelli said.

In 2020, the TIA reported 51 deaths, more than 5,000 injuries and more than 14,000 crashes. All involving a distracted driver. Police believe the crashes were preventable.

“It’s a decision that people make to get in their car knowing that a text message or phone call can wait,” Bastianelli said.

Operation Ghost Rider uses unmarked spotter vehicles with a law enforcement passenger inside. When the spotter sees a distracted driver, they radio a fully marked law enforcement vehicle ahead to initiate a traffic stop.

“The point of that is catching them in the act. Sometimes I think people don’t even realize that they’re doing it,” Bastianelli said.

The number of incidents appears to be declining since Operation Ghost Rider first started in 2017. Officers hope that through education and accountability they can continue to reduce the numbers.

“Everyone knows that this is a problem while people are driving so I think people are becoming more aware of the fact that this is an issue,” Bastianelli said.

READ: More distracted driving coverage

About the Authors:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.