Midland County dealing with six-fold increase in fatal crashes

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MIDLAND COUNY (WJRT) (12/13/2017) - It's been a brutal year for car accidents in Midland County, where the death toll is six times what it was last year.

With more than two weeks to go, 2017 will go down on as one of the deadliest years on roadways in recent memory.

There were more accidents in Midland County today, mainly due to the weather, however there were no serious injuries.

A portion of Saginaw Road was closed in Midland today for about two hours after a Consumers Energy truck and an SUV were involved in a collision. Thankfully, no serious injuries in the crash.

But Deputy Sgt. Shannon Guilbeaux said when it comes to deadly accidents in the county this year, he has never seen anything like this.

"Not in my 13 years, not even close," he said.

The 17 deadly crashes have claimed 18 lives since Jan. 1. The most recent came Monday evening, when 25-year-old Kristen Laughton died in a crash blamed on poor road conditions.

Michigan State Police traffic data shows there were only three traffic deaths in Midland County all of last year.

"It's been horrible, but knock on wood, it will turn around but again," Guilbeaux said. "We need drivers to pay attention to what is going on around them."

He believes distracted driving has played a role in the spike in traffic deaths. In the midst of the busy holiday season, he is reminding people of the danger caused when drivers are not paying full attention on the road.

"We want everyone to be safe and just pay attention to your surroundings," Guilbeaux said. "Slow down and put the cell phones down, put the other electronics and devices down, pay attention to what is going on the road."

He said that's especially important when bad winter weather hits.

"Just because someone is driving slower in front of you, it doesn't mean you go blowing by them," Guilbeaux said. "It's going to cause more accidents. We had, I think, 15 to 20 on a stretch of U.S. 10 a few days ago, and it was just accident after accident."

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