New Distracted Driving Legislation Introduced to Save Lives and Prevent Injuries

Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant, TIA, (248) 334-4971
Bryan Warrick, Communications Manager, House of Representatives, (517) 373-1331

100_6778TROY, Michigan, September 6, 2016 – Jim Santilli, chief executive officer of the Transportation Improvement Association, and State Representative Martin Howrylak today announced distracted driving legislation they’ve designed with the goal of reducing fatalities, injuries, and traffic crashes in Michigan.

“When operating a motor vehicle, we all have a personal responsibility to protect our life and the lives of the innocent people traveling around us at all times,” said Santilli.  “Distracted driving is just as dangerous as operating a vehicle while impaired.  No text message, social media update, e-mail, or any other distraction is worth putting a life in jeopardy.  I commend Representative Howrylak for his commitment to ensuring all people return home to their loved ones each day.”

Howrylak stated the legislation is currently in the process of being assigned a bill number.

“The number of distracted drivers continues to rise and we must take action to make our roadways safer,” said Howrylak.  “My bill seeks to ensure Michigan drivers have their attention focused on the road at all times, instead of a mobile device.”

The bill states that a person may use a portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle if the portable electronic device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and is being used in that manner by the person while operating a motor vehicle.

Furthermore, the bill prohibits a person from holding or using a portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street, or temporarily stationary due to traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delay.  However, a person may use a portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle if the portable electronic device is mounted on the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not hinder the person’s view of the road and if the person’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the portable electronic device with a single swipe or tap of the person’s finger.

A person may hold or use a portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stopped at the side of or off of a public highway in a location where the vehicle is not otherwise prohibited from stopping by law, rule, regulation, or a lawful order or direction of a police officer.

The bill calls for violators to receive a civil infraction, beginning with a $250 fine for the first violation.  A second violation would result in a $500 fine and 1 point.  A third or subsequent violation carries a $500 fine and 2 points.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers who use a hand-held device are 4 times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury.  Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

“Traffic crashes are preventable and it’s imperative that all drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel,” said Chief Robert Shelide of the Shelby Township Police Department.  “The entire law enforcement community remains dedicated to serving the public by keeping all motorists safe through education and enforcement initiatives.  Together, we can save lives and prevent injuries.”

The bill defines a portable electronic device as a handheld wireless telephone, electronic wireless communication device, personal digital assistant, handheld device that has mobile data access, laptop computer, pager, broadband personal communication device, 2-way messaging device, electronic game, portable computing device, a navigation or GPS device, or any other electronic device that is used to conduct a search or to input, write, send, receive, or read text for present or future communication.

Use is defined as holding a portable electronic device while conducting a search; viewing, taking, or transmitting an image or video; playing games; or for the purpose of present or future communication, performing a command or request to access an internet page or composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving, or retrieving an e-mail message, text message, instant message, or other electronic data.