Michigan Distracted Driving Accidents & Cell Phone Laws

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Michigan Distracted Driving Accidents & Cell Phone Laws

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Key Points of This Article:

  • Distracted driving due to cell phone use continues to be a safety issue across the country and in Michigan, where there is currently no complete ban on cell phone use while driving.
  • In 2021, bipartisan lawmakers introduced three new bills that would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving.
  • If passed, House Bills 4277, 4278, and 4279 would ban all drivers from using a cell phone while driving, except in cases where individuals are reporting accidents or other emergencies.
  • Michigan’s Kiefer Foundation and AAA have found that 88%-93% of all Michiganders polled favor updated distracted driving laws concerning cell-phone use.

Michigan Legislation Calls for Statewide Ban on All Cell Phone Use While Driving

Distracted driving is any activity that takes away someone’s attention from driving—and texting, reading emails, or talking on a phone while driving are some of the most hazardous distraction choices a driver can make. This is because these acts combine all three types of distraction and increase an operator’s likelihood of being involved in a motor vehicle crash and endangering themselves, other motorists, and pedestrians.

According to Michigan State Police:

  • Mobile phone use-related car accidents increased approximately 48% between 2016 and 2019 in Michigan.
  • Fatal mobile phone use-related motor vehicle crashes increased nearly 90% across the state.

Distracted drivers kill on average ten people die every day in the U.S. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1 in 5 of the people who died in crashes involving a distracted driver were not in vehicles―they were simply walking, riding their bikes, or otherwise outside a motor vehicle doing things like exercising, in a parking lot, or enjoying outdoor activities

What Are Michigan’s Laws for Using A Cell Phone While Driving?

About 25 U.S. states have strict distracted driving laws related to cell phone use, such as prohibiting hand-held use of mobile phones, but Michigan is not currently one of them. While the state does have a specific statute (MCLA  257.602b) that applies to distracted driving and texting, it only stops drivers from reading, manually typing, or sending a text message while driving and not from using a cell phone entirely. A group of bipartisan lawmakers sought to update those rules and introduced three new bills in Feb. 2021 that would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Michigan.

House Bills 4277, 4278, and 4279 would ban all drivers from using a cell phone while driving, except in cases where individuals are reporting accidents or other emergencies. Together, these bills define cell phone use as the act of initiating a call, answering a call, or engaging in verbal communication through a phone, and ban distracted driving activities.

Democratic State Representative Mari Manoogian is leading the fight, representing Birmingham. Manoogian also worked with representatives Mike Mueller and Joseph Bellino. If passed, the laws are expected to dramatically help cut down on the number of distracted driving accidents in Michigan.

Troy, Battle Creek, and Detroit Already Have Distracted Driving Laws Set in Place

In 2019, Michigan AAA’s distracted driving surveys showed that nearly 95% of residents polled said texting while driving was their number one concern when asked about driving distractions. And again, in 2020, Michigan’s Kiefer Foundation found that 88% of Michiganders are in favor of updated distracted driving laws.

Several municipalities like Troy, Battle Creek, and Detroit are listening and have already created their own stricter distracted driving laws, created local awareness campaigns, and use road signs posted at entry points to the city to notify drivers. For example, Battle Creek’s local ordinance prohibits hand-held phone use while driving, including scrolling, typing, and speaking. The city of Troy and Detroit have also passed rules that expand the existing state law.

Cell-Phone Use While Driving is a Deadly Distraction and Should Always Be Avoided

Operators of motor vehicles at any age cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has their full attention. Any non-driving activity a driver engages in, especially using a mobile device, is a dangerous distraction and increases the risk of crashing and causing injuries and preventable fatalities. Follow our guide below to stop yourself from being distracted by your mobile device while driving.

  1. Recognize that driving requires your full attention.
  2. Change the settings on your phone to Do Not Disturb. This will automatically send a message to those trying to reach you that you are driving and it is not safe to talk.
  3. Ask a passenger to place a call or text for you and, if possible, speak in your place.
  4. Do not compose, send or read text messages or use social media platforms while driving in Michigan.
  5. Never FaceTime or virtually chat while driving.
  6. Avoid intense, complicated, or emotional conversations when driving.
  7. Stop at a safe roadside location to make essential calls, conference calls, and to participate in Zoom meetings.
  8. Program your GPS before starting your trip.
  9. Allow plenty of time for your trip to avoid having to call or text the person who is expecting you.
  10. Set mobile boundaries by asking family and friends to refrain from contacting you during your commute hours.

If you or a family member is a victim of an accident caused by a distracted driver, your first responsibility is to focus on recovery. And before speaking with the insurance company, always seek out a car accident attorney’s qualified advice to avoid jeopardizing your claim. The Lee Steinberg Law Firm and Call Lee Free are experienced with Michigan No-Fault Law and have a team of Michigan car accident lawyers dedicated to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Legal Help Is Available: Distracted Driving Accident Attorneys in Michigan

Always consult with an attorney before making a statement, accepting a settlement, or discussing your distracted driving accident with others. If you or someone you know has been injured in a Michigan traffic crash, call the car accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for your free legal consultation.

Also read: 5 Michigan Communities with Highest Number of Distracted Driving Accidents