NEWS & EVENTS

Talsma Family, Ottawa County Sherriff, & MOHSP Team Up for Distracted Driving Event at Unity Christian

Hudsonville, MI- It’s been a little more than half a year now since David Talsma, 13, was killed in a car crash on I196 in Hudsonville. The cause of that crash; a distracted driver. The driver was looking at his GPS eating a sandwich and was unaware that traffic in front of him had stopped. In the months since the accident the Talsma family has been raising awareness for distracted driving.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month for the National Safety Council. On Monday morning the Talsma family, Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (MOHSP) teamed up to hold an event at Unity Christian. Before a group of 40 Unity Christian students from Student Council, Class Officers, and the Spiritual Leadership Committee, the group shared the dangers of distracted driving.

“When it comes to traffic safety, every motorist and passenger can be a difference maker”, stated Michael L. Prince, director of the MOHSP as he shared statistics about distracted driving. Distracted driving caused 7,517 crashes in Michigan last year, resulting in 2,350 injuries and 27 deaths. Cell phones were involved in 753 of those crashes, with 251 injuries, and 3 fatalities according to the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center (CJIC). Click here for the Distracted Driving Awareness Month Fact Sheet for April 2016

“This heartbreak is preventable”, shared Steve Kempker, Ottawa County Undersheriff who has worked for Ottawa County for 26 years. “I have been involved in investigating over 400 fatal crashes in my lifetime with Ottawa County. And when we take a look at how many driveways we have walked up, doors we knocked on, and parents and loved ones we had to tell that had a family member in a fatal crash, we know that many of these could be prevented.”

Kemper also talked about the importance of being prepared before you take the road. “Multitasking is a myth for drivers of all ages. It’s important to make preparations before heading out and avoiding all other activities while driving.”

Jason Talsma and Kristin DeGraaf, David’s parents, reached out to the students who were in attendance. “I want to challenge you to think about what your cause is”, said Jason. “David had his own cause which was cancer that touched his heart. David did a lot of running last year for cancer, and was planning on doing a lot more this year. I was impressed at how much running he did.” David’s parents told the students that they would pray for them to consider this as a cause if they didn’t have one or were looking for one. “We want all of you to be difference makers”, they said.

After the event Unity Senior and Student Council President Nolan Schuitema was asked about how the student body can be difference makers. “It starts with us being the influence on our fellow classmates, and not only our classmates but our parents and grandparents. It’s showing we can take a foothold of this problem that is happening.”

For more information about Distracted Driving you can visit www.distraction.gov and help spread the awareness.

Also visit the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning by going to www.michigan.gov/ohsp