Michigan’s Hands-Free Driving Laws Are Changing
In 2010, Michigan's state legislators voted to make texting and driving illegal, which has lowered the number of accidents caused by distracted driving and even opened lawmakers' eyes to other distracted driving issues. Legislators are now looking at devices that can use streaming platforms, video calls, and more.
It's no secret that driving a 2,000+ pound vehicle is a huge responsibility that puts multiple lives at risk, so how does the country continue to make driving safer? Especially with more self-driving/parking cars, the appeal to be distracted while driving may be looming larger so lawmakers in Michigan are doing their part to keep roads safe.
A Three-bill bipartisan package has been presented to the legislators which has bills HB 4250, HB 4251, and HB 4252 all aimed at removing distractions from drivers. The new bill is just a modification to the old which says that texting and driving is illegal but now says that using devices for social media, streaming, or even video calls will also be prohibited.
Using a device to take a video call is the one that raises the most concern for me personally. First off, I understand the distracted driving concern that arises with this action but I feel like this one is a little too harsh. I think most people aren't looking at their phones during a video call and that makes it easier to drive but others are and that makes it distracted driving.
I wholeheartedly agree with taking away the option to scroll on social media or watch something on a streaming platform due to the constant distraction that they provide. Sure you can listen to a video of your favorite podcast, tv show, or sport but that doesn't stop someone from taking a quick peek when something exciting happens. Scrolling on social media becomes a rabbit hole and is self-explanatory on why it isn't a good idea.
Both HB 4250 and HB 4152, passed the chamber in 68-39 votes while HB 4251 passed in a 66-41 vote and is awaiting Senate approval. If passed, the Ramifications for violating the new driving bills are as follows:
Anyone first caught violating the law, a civil infraction, pay a $100 fine, serve 16 hours of community service, or both. A second violation would increase penalties to $250, 24 hours of community service, or both. New to the bill is the punishment for a third violation within three years. Should that occur, the package requires a court-ordered “basic driver improvement course within a reasonable time as determined by the court.”
There will also be studies being run by the state consisting of reports based on how these bills affect drivers within the state. Lawmakers state within the bill:
Three and a half years after the effective date, the state police must report to legislative leaders and the governor the number of citations given, the race and ethnicity of those cited and the number of any serious injuries or death caused by those violations.
This is a trend in the right direction in terms of making driving as safe as possible for everyone on the roads including cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and more. How do you feel about the possible change in the driving laws?