Understanding the Michigan Distracted Driving Law
Between 2013 and 2018 distracted driving was the cause of 2.95% of fatal car crashes in Michigan, causing a total of 209 deaths. In 2017 there were 7,416 crashes that involved distracted driving, resulting in 3,472 injuries and 28 fatalities.
Even with the regulations imposed by Michigan distracted driving law, 41% of young drivers admit to regularly sending texts and emails while driving. Here is a look at distracted driving and the law.
Types of Distraction
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has determined that lack of driver attention is the leading factor in most automobile crashes. There are three types of distraction – visual, manual, and cognitive.
Visual distraction is anything that causes you to take your eyes off the road. This can be looking at your GPS/navigation system, looking at your kids in the backseat, and more.
Manual distraction is anything that results in you taking your hands off the steering wheel. Prime examples are smoking, eating, or reaching for any object such as your climate or radio controls.
Cognitive distraction is having your mind on anything other than your driving. This can be caused because of kids fighting in the backseat, talking with a passenger, going over a to-do list in your head, or daydreaming.
Michigan Distracted Driving Law
Michigan law enacted July 1, 2010, prohibits texting while driving. The fine is $100 for the first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses. There is currently no restriction for fully licensed drivers talking on a cellphone in a passenger vehicle except in the cities of Detroit and Battle Creek. Michigan drivers are restricted if driving a commercial vehicle or school bus unless using hands-free technology.
Drivers who are operating on a Level 1 or Level II graduated driver’s license are not allowed to talk on a cell phone while driving. The exception is if they are in a vehicle with a hands-free system.
Michigan does give an exception to the above if the driver is reporting a traffic accident or medical emergency. They are also exempt when reporting a serious road hazard, a situation in which they may be in danger, or a crime in action against a person.
Keep in mind that if you are in an accident while using your phone you could be charged with reckless driving, careless driving, or vehicular homicide depending on the seriousness of the accident.
Proposed Distraction Law: House Bill 4181
House Bill 4181 passed the House on December 11, 2019. If it passes the Senate and is signed into law it will make it illegal for all drivers to use a mobile device while driving. If a cell phone is in your hand you will be in violation of the law.
Governor Gretchen Whitmer has referred to the problem of cell phone use a national epidemic and the number one killer of young drivers and passengers. The bill is supported by both Democrats and Republicans and is expected to pass.
Michigan uses primary enforcement. This means they can pull you over and issue a citation if they see you using your cell phone in violation of the law. You do not have to commit any other traffic offence for them to pull you over.
Distracted driving tickets do not add points to your license. However if your distraction results in an accident, your car insurance may increase.
If You Are Issued a Distracted Driving Citation
If you are issued a Michigan distracted driving law citation you should speak with a traffic attorney before paying the ticket. A law firm specializing in auto accident law can review your rights under the law.