Data released for distracted driving in Oakland County

It's a relatively new problem: drivers distracted by their phones. 

"We know it's a huge uptick, we just never really had any stats about it before," says Michigan State Police First Lt. Michael Shaw. But now for the first time, we do have evidence of just how many crashes in Oakland County have been caused by distracted driving. 

Several years ago, officers across the country were given the green light to list "distracted driving" as an official cause of a crash. Because of this, we now know how big of a problem it is. 

From mid 2016 to the end of 2017 -- 2,500 distracted driving crashes took place in Oakland County alone. Seven fatalities in that time period were also attributed to distracted driving. 

"We all see people on their phones everyday. I had no idea it would be this high for a relatively short period of time," says Craig Bryson, the Road Commission of Oakland County. 

Each dot on the map of Oakland County, which you can see in the video player above, represents a crash caused by a distracted driver. 

"It's interesting; it's exciting - it's also kind of scary because of what the data reveals," Bryson says. Some of the worst areas for distracted driving happen to be the busiest roads in the county -- Big Beaver; Crooks; Twelve Mile; Ten Mile; and Orchard Lake Road. 

Troopers have seen their fair share of this type of driving, too.

"We have Operation Ghost Rider up on M-59 where we stopped 800, 900 cars all for distracted driving in a three or four day period," Lt. Shaw says.

And it goes beyond just the person behind the wheel, too. Shaw says they've seen a spike in pedestrian crashes because they've been looking at their phone screen instead of where they're walking. 

If there is a silver lining in all of this, MSP says fatal crashes in Michigan are going down overall, but police say it has less to do with better driving and more to do with better-made cars. 

The hope with all this new data is to come up with a stragey to remind drivers just how dangerous distracted driving is, and make the roads a safer place.