News Story

MDOT Spokesman: Rebel Drivers, Libertarians Spiking Traffic Deaths

Michigan State Police say cause for increase in crash fatalities still unknown

A spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation said that the increase in fatal crashes so far this year stems from people “driving recklessly to rebel against police and coronavirus restrictions.”

“There’s this libertarian spirit that says: ‘Quit telling me what to do. Quit telling me to wear a mask. Quit telling me to wear a seatbelt. I’m not going to do anything that the government tells me I have to do.’ And all of these things are very disturbing,” MDOT spokesman Jeff Cranson said.

Cranson made his comments in a recent story published by the MIRS news site.

There were 837 fatal vehicle crashes in Michigan for the year as of Nov. 10, according to unofficial state police reports. At the same time in 2019, there had been 800 fatal car crashes, according to MIRS. So this year’s number is a 4.6% increase.

Fatal crashes vary significantly from year to year. For example, from 2014 to 2015, there was an 10.8% increase in fatal crashes. From 2009 to 2010, there was a 7.7% drop in fatal crashes.

“My comments were based on input from MSP [Michigan State Police], who were represented in the same conversation. They investigate the causes of crashes and keep the statistics,” Cranson said in an email. “But none of the years you cite [above] involved a steep decline in vehicle miles traveled because of a once-in-a-century pandemic. The fact that traffic was down as much as 60% in the weeks following the outbreak and was still down as much as 20% recently makes an increase in traffic deaths very troubling.”

Michigan State Police officials say they have not determined why there has been an increase in fatal crashes.

“We don’t yet know the factors behind the increase in traffic fatalities,” said Shanon Banner, spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police. “There is some preliminary data that points to some higher speeds and also more unbelted motorists, but once the year’s data is in and finalized, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning will review it more closely to attempt to determine trends and possible causes.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.