Troy police believe distracted driving to blame for 25 percent of crashes

It can look like you're driving drunk but Troy police say often, when officers pull over many apparent drunk drivers - it is actually people using their phones. 

"They're driving erratically, they are swinging out of their lanes, sometimes we witness them hitting curbs or guard rails on the freeway," said Lt. Josh Jones, Troy police. "They're not drinking, not intoxicated... just on their phones."

According to Troy police, the number of distracted drivers continues to rise. The city showed 194 distracted driving tickets in 2016 and 224 in 2017. That increase is over 13 percent. And police say, they expect it to continue to grow as younger generations get behind the wheel.

"When they start to become more comfortable driving they begin to incorporate that cell phone use a little bit more while they are driving, which is dangerous and they really don't even think about it."

Troy police say there were roughly 3,900 crashes last year and 195 of those crashes or roughly 5 percent of them, are believed to be from distracted drivers.

That may seem rather low, but it isn't.

"Our hard data might say distracted driving was only a factor in a small percentage of them," Jones said. "But in reality we believe the percentage is much higher."

Police say they believe 975 of those crashes or about 25 percent are the result of distracted driving.

"People are very hesitant to tell police they were using their phone just prior to being in a crash," Jones said.

While statistics for 2017 are not yet available from Michigan State Police or the U.S. Department of Transportation, the CDC's latest reports show that, in the U.S. about nine people are killed and more than one-thousand are injured in distracted driving crashes each day.

"More technology has been added to cars in general, it is not just people's smart phones," Jones said. "It's the features in the cars themselves."

In Troy a texting and driving ticket will cost you $200 and $300 bucks on your second offense.