Auto shop stages crash to warn of distracted driving

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — An auto repair shop in metro Grand Rapids is using a powerful image to send a message to drivers to stop texting.

A Mercedes lies on its side in front of Impact Collision Repair on 36th Street in Cascade Township. A banner hung across it reads “Stop texting.”

“The car definitely makes a statement,” General Manager Steve Sawicki says. “We’ve had people come in and actually say, ‘Did that accident happen here?””

It didn’t — the scene is staged, but Sawicki says it shows what can happen if you drive distracted.

“I’m guilty of it, too. My phone goes off. I want to check it, but know what can happen when you do take your eye off the road even for a split second,” he says.

He estimates the shop sees about one car a week that was involved in a crash that may have involved texting.

“It started out just hearing tow truck drivers, hearing customers state that they thought that there was texting involved in a lot of the accidents. And then it really came to head when my daughter was involved in an accident,” he says.

Sawickie says the other driver involved was texting. His daughter’s truck was the first vehicle the shop used in its campaign about a year and a half ago. The Cascade Township Fire Department also used the truck for training in 2015.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 3,400 people were killed and nearly 400,000 injured in 2015 as a result of distracted driving crashes.

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