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Michigan Drivers Still Not Taking Distracted Driving Seriously

distracted driving leads to car accidents

Key Points of This Article:

  • Since 2016, mobile phone use-related car accidents have increased nearly 50% in Michigan.
  • More than 2,800 people in the U.S. die in distraction-related crashes each year.
  • Drivers should be aware of three major types of distraction: visual (eyes), manual (hands), and cognitive (mind).
  • Although 87% of people think talking on a cell phone while driving is a serious safety threat, 49% admit to talking on a handheld phone while driving.

Michigan Distracted Driving Crashes Have Doubled Since 2016

Distracted driving is inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention from driving to focus on another activity. At least seven people every day are injured in distraction-related crashes. Just as alarming, since 2016, mobile phone use-related car accidents have increased nearly 50% in Michigan. Although distracted driving is an ongoing issue impacting all types of road users, April is the month dedicated to raising awareness about how distractions continue to cause the most disturbing trend in traffic safety and road fatalities.

  • There are three major types of distraction: visual (eyes), manual (hands), and cognitive (mind).
  • More than 2,800 people in the U.S. died in distraction-related crashes in 2018 alone. That same year, 276,000 people were injured in distraction-related crashes.
  • About 1 in 5 of the people who die in crashes involving a distracted driver were not in a vehicle and are pedestrians or bicyclists.
  • Most drivers typically do not realize when they are cognitively distracted, such as using a cell phone to call or check and send a quick text. However, cell phone use is the deadliest distraction for drivers.

Distractions could be from using electronic devices such as cell phones or navigation systems or other types of distractions such as eating, drowsiness, tending to children or pets, or even talking to passengers.

Detroit Has the Highest Number of Distracted Driving Accidents in Michigan

The car accident and personal injury attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. recently took a deeper look into the state’s urban hubs and most populated suburban communities to reveal the highest number of distracted driving-related crashes. Using Michigan State Police crash data, the top three urban areas with the most crashes due to a distracted driver include:

  1. Detroit
  2. Grand Rapids
  3. Bloomfield Township, Oakland County

The No. 1 location for statewide distracted driving accidents remains a 275 mile stretch on I-94, in the southwest corner of Michigan. A total of 2,798 crashes occurred in Michigan, where a motor vehicle driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist used a cell phone at the time of the event. Fifteen of those crashes involved a fatality.

Michigan law prohibits all drivers from reading, manually typing, or sending text messages while driving. Some local municipalities have their own ordinances prohibiting cell phone use while driving within their jurisdictions. Our attorneys help injured motorists all across the state and are prepared to investigate each community’s unique distracted driving laws and ordinances when evaluating your case.

Common Distracted Driving Misconceptions

Distracted driving can quickly result in a fatal collision impacting motorists, motorcyclists, semi-truck drivers, and pedestrians. Below is a list of common distracted driving misconceptions, with recommendations for addressing them from the National Safety Council (NSC).

  • Hands-free is not risk-free: While hands-free options may be marginally safer than handheld devices, eliminating driver use of all types of cell phones and in-vehicle infotainment systems is safest.
  • Drivers think cell phone use is distracting … for other people: Although 87% of people think talking on a cell phone while driving is a serious safety threat, 49% have talked on a handheld phone while driving. Drivers should talk the talk AND walk the walk, refraining from using their phone when behind the wheel.
  • It is impossible to multitask and give equal attention to each task: It is a misconception that tasks other than driving can be done simultaneously and safely. Motorists should make driving the primary focus and perform other cognitively demanding tasks only when safely parked.

Breaking Distracted Driving Habits

Driving should never be a secondary task. The driver’s most important responsibility is to arrive safely at the destination. Use these tips by NSC to prevent yourself from developing poor driving habits and allowing yourself to be distracted while operating a motor vehicle.

  • Do not interact with cell phones, apps, or IVIS technology unless you are safely parked.
  • Send or answer texts and emails, program navigation systems, and set up radio stations and playlists before or after driving.
  • Engage in only the lowest cognitive-workload secondary tasks such as listening to audio entertainment or talking to passengers.
  • Install a blocking app that stops phone notifications while the vehicle is in motion, or simply turn the phone off for the trip duration.
  • Do not call or text others if you think they may be driving.

Also, parents play an essential role in helping new drivers develop safe driving habits. Adult drivers can show a focused effort by demonstrating to their young drivers that they take safety seriously by never driving while using a phone, eating, or allow activities that could take attention off the road. A 2019 survey by the Centers for Disease Control shows that 39% of U.S. high school students text or email while driving.

To help stop distracted driving in Michigan, our Detroit car accident attorneys invite you to check out NSC’s Distracted Driving Pledge for you and your family to review, sign and commit to.

Injured in a Michigan Distracted Driving Accident?

If you have been injured in a crash and believe it was caused by someone driving while distracted, the accident injury attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. are experienced and ready to support your claim. Please call today and speak to our car accident attorneys at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733). 

Source: Center for the Management of Information for Safe and Sustainable Transportation, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, Distracted Driving Related Crashes in Michigan: 2016-2019, accessed April 4, 2021.

Hear more from Attorney Eric Steinberg: Distracted Driving in the State of Michigan | Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C.