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Passengers & The Michigan Distracted Driving Law

5 Tips on Being a Good Passenger In Accordance With the Michigan Distracted Driving Law

August 1, 2018

To help deter motorists from engaging in these risky behaviors, Michigan distracted driving law prohibits drivers from texting, which includes reading, manually typing or sending text messages while operating a moving motor vehicle on a street or highway.

Texting and performing other tasks involving both the eyes and the hands can increase the odds of a crash by 83%, according to a recent study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Michigan Distracted Driving Law Prohibits Cell Phone Use For Younger Drivers and Texting For All Drivers

We rely on our cell phones to keep us up-to-date and connected to our work, friends, and families. When you are behind the wheel of a car, however, this constant connection can be dangerous and even deadly.

Michigan distracted driving law also prohibits younger drivers, those holding Level 1 and Level 2 licenses under the Graduated Driver Licensing, from using a cell phone in any capacity while driving. Fines can be as high as $240; no points are assessed unless an accident or crime occurs in conjunction with the violation. The distracted driving law also prohibits cell phone use for drivers of commercial motor vehicles or school buses.

For all other drivers, no points are assessed for a texting violation, there is a $100 fine for the first offense and $200 fines for subsequent offenses.

The distracted driving law provides exceptions for using a cell phone for reporting accidents, crimes, or other emergencies. There are also exemptions for voice-operated systems that are integrated into the vehicle.

With the exception of younger drivers and those operating commercial vehicles or school buses, Michigan currently has no distracted driving law specifically prohibiting cell phone use in a vehicle. However, a driver who commits a traffic violation or causes an accident because of cell phone distraction could be charged with careless driving or other infractions.

Some municipalities have enacted local ordinances that prohibit cell phone use while driving within their respective jurisdiction.  

The Dangers of Distracted Driving

Research conducted by the National Safety Council shows that the brain remains distracted for 27 seconds after placing a call on a cell phone, changing a radio station or CD or sending a text using voice commands. Since an accident can happen in an instant, close to half a minute of distraction can easily lead to tragedy.

There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual – taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual – taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive – taking your mind off your driving

Texting while driving is especially dangerous because it involves all three types of distraction.

Other distracting activities include:

  • Using a cell phone and/or texting, even in hands-free mode
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming, shaving or putting on makeup
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Changing the radio station or CD
  • Listening to loud music
  • Attending to children

In 2016, there were 12,788 crashes in Michigan involving distracted driving, resulting in 43 fatalities and 5,103 injuries. 1,912 of these crashes, or 15%, involved cell phones. While the driver was using the cell phone in most of these accidents, a small number involved cell phone use by bicyclists (18) and pedestrians (7).

“While the law does not specifically restrict placing or receiving cell phone calls, it’s safer to avoid any cell phone use while driving,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “Even a hands-free call can take your concentration away from the road.”

Help Prevent Distracted Driving: Five Tips For Being A Good Passenger

1) Before you start your trip, whether long or short, let the driver know you are happy to help them with any tasks that would otherwise take their eyes, hands or mind off the road.

2) If directions are needed mid-route, program the GPS system accordingly and monitor it so the driver doesn’t have to.

3) If the driver wants to place a call, send a text or change the radio station, take over those tasks until you reach your destination.  

4) If children are riding in the car, attend to their needs and requests before they can distract the driver.

5) Avoid becoming a distraction yourself. If traffic is heavy or weather conditions are hazardous, refrain from talking to the driver unless absolutely necessary. Keep music at a moderate volume. If you need to use the phone, keep your voice low and avoid engaging the driver in your conversation.

Despite the laws and abundance of information about the dangers of distracted driving, many drivers still try to multi-task behind the wheel. If you or a loved one is injured in a motor vehicle accident, call us immediately. Our experienced auto accident attorneys will help you receive the compensation you and your family deserve.

The law is complicated, but finding the right auto accident lawyer is simple.

Call 1-800-CALL-SAM today for a free no-obligation consultation.