5 Things to Know About Michigan Cell Phone Driving Laws
March 21, 2019
Distracted driving is a growing epidemic, and cell phones are the biggest culprits. Statistics show that distracted driving caused more than 20,000 motor vehicle accidents in one year alone. More than 70 people died and close to 8,000 were seriously injured in those crashes. Here are some important facts about Michigan cell phone driving laws.
1) The basics of distracted driving
There are three main categories of distracted driving:
- Visual: taking your eyes off the road
- Manual: taking your hands off the wheel
- Cognitive: taking your mind off your driving
Using a hand-held cell phone can cause all three types of distraction to occur.
Other kinds of distractions can be just as dangerous. Here are some examples:
- Eating and drinking
- Using a navigation system
- Attending to children or talking to other passengers
- Shaving or applying makeup
- Adjusting the radio or other audio devices
- Using a hands-free device to talk or text
2) Michigan cell phone driving laws
Michigan law prohibits drivers from reading, manually typing, or sending text messages while driving.
Level 1 and Level 2 license holders under the Michigan Graduated Driver Licensing Program may not use cell phones in any capacity while driving.
The law allows exceptions for certain urgent circumstances. These include reporting crashes, crimes, medical emergencies, and serious road hazards. Additionally, drivers in situations where their personal safety is jeopardized are legally permitted to use cell phones.
Also, drivers who disobey traffic laws because they were distracted by a cell phone may be charged with another violation. These drivers may receive a ticket for careless driving or improper lane use, depending on the situation.
3) Hands-free is not risk-free
Multi-tasking is a myth! While our brains can switch back and forth between activities, we cannot actually do two things at once. Therefore, using voice commands while driving is just as distracting and dangerous as manual calling and texting.
Just listening to a caller decreases activity in the brain center that processes moving images up to 1/3.
Additionally, a driver’s field of view actually narrows while talking on a cell phone, even hands-free. This means drivers looking out the windshield while using their phones may miss up to 50% of what’s in front of them.
4) Some municipalities have their own Michigan cell phone driving laws
Some municipalities have enacted local ordinances that prohibit using cell phones while driving within their jurisdictions. While these municipalities are supposed to post notices at their boundaries, this is not always the case. Therefore, drivers should avoid using cell phones while driving in any municipality unless there is an emergency.
5) Distracted driving is as dangerous as drunk driving
Drivers using cell phones had slower reaction times than impaired drivers in a field test by Car and Driver magazine. Testers compared sober drivers with those whose blood alcohol levels were .08 (the legal limit in many states, including Michigan).
Here are the surprising results:
- The alcohol-impaired drivers needed four more feet of stopping space than the sober drivers.
- The sober drivers who read emails while driving needed 36 extra feet to stop.
- The sober drivers who sent texts while driving required an additional 70 feet of stopping space.
“While Michigan cell phone driving laws do not prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving, it’s still a dangerous practice,” says Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “Most accidents are caused by driver error, and distracted driving is completely preventable. Next time you drive, remember to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes and your mind on the road.”
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