Distracted driving is responsible for various significant problems regarding Michigan motorists and public streets, consequently causing property damage, serious injuries and even fatalities.

According to distracted driving facts, nearly 3,500 deaths are consequences of driving distractions every year. Furthermore, polls indicate that one in every five motorists admits to using some form of handheld device for sending or receiving electronic communications while operating a vehicle.

Overall, distracted driving laws in MI are designed to discourage motorists from engaging in the kinds of behavior that result in damages, injuries or fatalities. Thus, they aim to lessen the frequency of the accidents caused by this behavior. To find out more about the state’s laws on distracted driving, read the sections below.

What is distracted driving in Michigan?

According to Michigan laws, distracted driving occurs when a motorist fails to focus on the operation of a motor vehicle because he or she engaged in some other activity, such as using a handheld device. Because of the rise in the popularity of smartphones, many states have passed legislation to combat the rising number of accidents occurring in the United States as a result of cell phone use while driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies driving distractions into the three following major categories:

  • Visual – A visual driving distraction involves any action in which a driver’s vision is pulled away from the operation of a vehicle. This category includes such activities as texting and driving, changing a radio station or looking for a lost object inside a moving car, to name a few.
  • Manual – The category of manual distractions includes any action that causes you take your hands off the steering wheel for any reason. If you are eating food while you are driving, or putting on makeup or shaving, those instances will be considered manual distractions.
  • Cognitive – Driving while distracted involves things that occupy your mind and shift your focus elsewhere, distracting you from operating a motor vehicle. A fairly typical cognitive distraction includes carrying a conversation with a passenger in your car while you are driving.

As a general rule, texting while driving is considered one of the most severe forms of distracted driving, as it involves elements of all three of the CDC’s categories of distractions. Other common activities that may be classified as driving distractions include:

  • Talking on a cell phone or using it to send an electronic message
  • Having a meal or drinking a beverage
  • Reading
  • Using any sort of device to watch a video
  • Having a conversation with a passenger
  • Grooming, such as shaving or applying makeup
  • Using any form of navigation devices

Distracted Driving Laws in Michigan for Handheld Devices

Cell phone use while driving is a persistent issue that has caused a significant number of auto accidents in Michigan. As such, MI state laws prohibit various forms of cell phone use while driving, such as reading, typing or sending text messages or establishing any two-way wireless communication between electronic devices. The only exceptions regarding cell phone distraction laws include placing a call to report an accident or medical emergency.

Michigan Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers

Michigan laws on distracted driving prohibit all motorists who hold a level I or level II graduated license from using a cell phone while driving, unless the phone is using a voice-operated system that is integrated into the vehicle. In general, novice drivers who hold these types of driving credentials are younger than 18 years of age.

Texting and Driving Laws in Michigan

Michigan law prohibits texting while driving for motorists of all ages and skill levels. These rules encompass the usage of any handheld device that sends and/or receives text messages. Such devices are also not permitted to be used to read, write or play any sort of media while operation a vehicle. As detailed in previous sections, MI provides very few exceptions for this distracted driving law, which include:

  • Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency or road hazard
  • Calling for help during a situation in which the motorist believes that he or she is in imminent danger
  • Reporting a crime against another individual
  • Using a GPS or other type of navigation system that is integrated into the vehicle

Michigan Distracted Drivers Regulations for CDL Holders

Distracted driving laws in Michigan prohibit bus drivers or any other motorists who hold commercial driver’s licenses from using handheld electronic devices while operating a vehicle. On the other hand, cell phone use while driving is acceptable for law enforcement officers, firefighters or emergency medical technicians (EMTs) using mobile phones during the course of carrying out their official duties.

Distracted Driving Penalties in Michigan

Texting and driving fines in Michigan cost $100 for a first offense and $200 for subsequent offenses. Moreover, state courts may impose additional costs on top of the fines established by law enforcement authorities. Distracted driving penalties for those using a cell phone while operating a vehicle are civil infractions that carry fines of up to $100.

Court costs may raise that amount, but no demerit points are assessed on a driver’s record. Comparatively, while commercial drivers incur fines of equal amounts, they are subject to incurring points on their driving records.

Ways to Prevent Distracting Driving in Michigan

Michigan law enforcement agencies and officers always aim to find effective ways to stop texting and driving, as well as discourage other behaviors that inhibit the safe operation of a motor vehicle. Some of the most effective ways to reduce the odds of a distracted driving accident include the following:

  • Multi-tasking, talking on the phone, searching for a radio station and sending a text message are all considered driving distractions.
  • Eating while driving is another significant source of distraction for motorists. For instance, spilling foods or liquids in the car can cause a major distraction from driving.
  • Tired drivers are four times more likely to have an accident. Thus, consider pulling over and resting for a few minutes if you do not feel energized enough to operate a car.
  • Limiting the number of passengers in a vehicle can significantly reduce driving distractions. As a general rule, having several passengers in a car may greatly increase a motorist’s level of distraction.
  • Cell phone use while driving should be reserved to emergency situations. If you need to use it, make sure to pull over to the side of the road first, and bring your car to a complete stop before using the device. Furthermore, avoid engaging in social and/or casual conversations while you are driving.
Last updated on Friday, March 15 2019.

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