As of June 30, 2023, drivers using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel can be ticketed and subjected to a hefty fine. A new Michigan law prohibits holding a cell phone to text, make and receive calls, view or record videos or use social media sites while driving. The timing is intended to reduce the number of accidents over the July 4 holiday, historically one of the deadliest weekends of the year for motorists. Michigan is the 26th state to enact this type of ban as part of a wider effort to curb the growing distracted driving epidemic.
However, if you or a loved one is injured by a distracted driver, our experienced Michigan car accident lawyers will protect your rights and help you receive the compensation you deserve
Under the new law, drivers may not hold a cell phone, or mobile electronic device, to perform any of the following tasks while operating a motor vehicle:
Additionally, the law defines “holding” as physically supporting the phone with any part of the hands, arms or shoulders. Therefore, tucking a phone between your ear and shoulder can result in a ticket and/or a fine.
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Although texting while driving was illegal under previous Michigan law, the new legislation goes further by prohibiting drivers from holding a phone in their hands while operating a motor vehicle.
According to traffic safety experts, expanding the law to include a ban on hand-held cell phones is needed to curb the rising number of distracted driving accidents in Michigan and across the country.
Because the law banning texting while driving was passed before the proliferation of smart phones, most drivers did not have the ability to use their phones to watch videos or post on social media.
Over the past several years, however, these and other unsafe behaviors have increased, resulting in more serious and fatal accidents caused by distracted drivers.
In addition, holding a cell phone prevents a driver from keeping both hands on the steering wheel. If the driver suddenly needs two hands to avoid a car that swerves or switches lanes unexpectedly, it may not be possible to avoid a crash.
Further, because the majority of people are right-handed, most drivers hold their phone in their left hand and keep their dominant hand on the wheel. This can block a driver’s vision and affect their ability to turn and look to the left. This is especially dangerous when changing lanes or navigating one of Michigan’s many roundabouts.
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Yes. The new legislation allows police officers to stop a car and issue a citation solely because the driver is using a hand-held cell phone, even if the driver is complying with all other traffic rules.
However, law enforcement personnel are prohibited from searching a vehicle or its driver and passenger(s) if the traffic stop was based only on a violation of this legislation.
In addition, the new law requires Michigan State Police to collect data that includes the number of citations given, the race and/or ethnicity of the ticketed drivers and how many serious injuries or deaths resulted from these violations. Lawmakers will review the information three-and-a-half years after the effective date to determine whether the law is effectively reducing injuries and fatalities and to ensure drivers in marginalized communities are not being disproportionately affected.
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Passenger vehicle drivers who violate the new law are subject to the following penalties:
School bus or commercial vehicle drivers are subject to fines up to $500 per violation.
These penalties apply only to using a cell phone or other device in violation of the new law. A driver who commits another traffic offense at the same time, such as speeding, reckless driving or causing an accident, will be subject to additional penalties.
Yes. The new legislation includes exemptions for the following individuals, including paid personnel and volunteers, during the performance of their official duties:
Other motorists may use hand-held cell phones under the following limited circumstances:
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Not necessarily. Although using a hands-free device is less dangerous than holding a phone, having a conversation or dictating information to a GPS system can be equally distracting.
Talking on a phone while driving causes “inattention blindness,” according to a report by the National Safety Council. The study showed drivers engaged in phone conversations, hands-free or otherwise, missed an average of 50% of what was in front of them. Even though they were “looking” at the road, their attention was divided between talking and driving.
What’s more, research shows drivers who talk on the phone have slower reaction times, are more prone to speeding and have trouble staying in a lane. Needless to say, these factors increase the risk of a serious or fatal crash, especially when driving at high speeds.
If you or a loved one was injured in a distracted driving accident, we are ready to help. Our knowledgeable legal team knows what it takes to win your case, and we have the expertise and resources to win the compensation you deserve.
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