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Distracted driving in Michigan

10 Things You Should Know About Distracted Driving in Michigan

February 5, 2020

What is the definition of distracted driving?

Distracted driving in Michigan is considered anything that takes a driver’s eyes, hands and/or mind away from the road. Even a momentary distraction can be dangerous. Drivers can be distracted by cell phones, other electronic devices, passengers (of any age), and activities such as eating or grooming.

What are the different kinds of distracted driving in Michigan?

The three main classifications of distracted driving are:

Visual: when a driver takes their eyes off the road

Manual: when a driver takes one or both hands off the wheel

Cognitive: when a driver’s mind is focused on something other than driving

Using a hand-held cell phone is particularly dangerous because it causes a driver to experience all three types of distraction.

Is it illegal to use a cell phone while driving in Michigan?

Current Michigan cell phone laws prohibit reading, manually typing or sending text messages while driving.

In addition, level 1 and 2 license holders under the Graduated Driver Licensing program, as well as school bus drivers, are prohibited from using a cell phone under any circumstances while driving.

Surprisingly, drivers are legally allowed to place calls or hold conversations on hand-held cell phones. However, some municipalities have enacted their own local ordinances that prohibit drivers from using hand-held cell phones in any capacity.   

What role do passengers play in distracted driving?

Passengers can help drivers avoid distractions, or they can cause a driver to become distracted. Those who talk loudly or play earsplitting music can hinder the driver’s ability to focus on the road. Conversely, passengers can help drivers avoid distractions by performing tasks such as programming the GPS or unwrapping a sandwich.

What are the various kinds of distractions drivers should avoid? 

  • Using a hand-held cell phone or other electronic device
  • Eating and drinking
  • Programming a navigation system
  • Attending to children
  • Talking to other passengers, especially those in the back seat
  • Shaving or applying make-up 
  • Changing the radio station
  • Adjusting an iPod or other audio device
  • Talking or texting on a hands-free device
  • Retrieving objects from the floor of the car

Why is distracted driving so dangerous?

Researchers have found it takes the average brain 27 seconds to return to the original task after an interruption. Therefore, even a brief distraction can cause a driver to have an accident, especially at higher speeds.

In addition, a study by AAA showed drivers who text behind the wheel are 83% more likely to be involved in a crash.

What about hands-free phones and devices?

Hands-free is not necessarily risk-free. Drivers who carry on conversations or dictate texts are not fully focused on the road. While their hands may not be occupied, their minds are. In fact, recent studies show that drivers using hands-free devices can fail to notice 50% of what’s in front of them.

What do the statistics show about the dangers of distracted driving in Michigan?

Data from Michigan State Police show distracted drivers were responsible for 18,927 crashes in 2018. In those accidents, 77 people died and 7,213 were injured.

What’s more, transportation experts believe the actual number of auto accidents involving cell phone use is actually much higher. This is because it’s difficult to determine whether using a cell phone actually caused the crash. Therefore, many police officers do not cite distracted driving as the official cause of an accident.

What are the penalties for distracted driving in Michigan?

A first offense is punishable by a $100 fine, which doubles to $200 for subsequent offenses. No points are assessed on a driving record unless an accident or another crime or traffic offense occurs in conjunction with the violation.

However, drivers who cause an accident or otherwise violate a traffic law while using a cell phone could be charged with careless driving or something more serious. 

How can I avoid distractions while driving?

  • Avoid using a cell phone to text or to talk while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free.
  • Program your GPS and set your radio station before you start driving. If you need to make a change, pull off the road.
  • Avoid eating and drinking while driving.
  • If something falls on the floor, wait until you park the car to retrieve it.
  • Don’t apply make-up or use a shaver while driving.
  • If possible, ask passengers to help with potentially distracting tasks.

Michigan car accident law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.

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

Sources:

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/S4SD_outreach_broch_10_web_pages_664924_7.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/Distracted_Driving_Fact_Sheet_552283_7.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/2018_Year-End_for_Web_653222_7.pdf

http://publications.michigantrafficcrashfacts.org/2018/2018CellPhoneUse.pdf

http://publications.michigantrafficcrashfacts.org/2018/At_a_Glance_2018.pdf

http://aaafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/TSCI-2017-Report.pdf

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