LANSING – The Michigan House of Representatives today passed a plan that will help protect drivers and motorists across the state by making text messaging while driving in Michigan illegal.
"With cell phones and text messaging now a part of our everyday lives it's too easy to get distracted while driving and endanger everyone around us on the road," said Gino Polidori (D-Dearborn), a sponsor of the plan. "Unfortunately, distracted driving has become a leading cause of accidents and can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Banning text messaging while driving is a simple step that will remind us all to pay attention when we're behind the wheel."
The plan, also sponsored by State Representative Lee Gonzales (D-Flint Twp.), will prohibit drivers in Michigan from reading, writing or sending text messages while driving, except to report accidents, crimes, emergencies or similar situations in which a person feels their safety is in jeopardy.
Under the plan, text messaging while driving will be considered a secondary offense, meaning drivers will be cited only if they are stopped by police for an additional infraction. Drivers who are caught text messaging while driving will receive a fine, but no points will be added to their driving record.
Nearly 80 percent of accidents and 65 percent of near-accidents involve a driver looking away from the roadway within three seconds of the event, according to a 2006 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia already have completely banned texting while driving; nine other states have enacted bans for novice drivers, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.
"We've all seen other drivers who are concentrating more on their cell phones than on driving and because of this they are putting themselves and all of our lives at risk," said House Speaker Andy Dillon
(D-Redford Twp.). "It only takes a split second of taking your eyes off the road to cause a crash. We must take every action to protect our residents and prevent accidents that cost lives."