Both the Michigan House and Senate have passed different versions of a ban on texting while driving. Under these laws, drivers may not receive, send, or write text messages, with exceptions such as emergencies or emergency personnel. Both the Senate and House Versions of this bill highlight the importance of banning texting. Distracted driving is a serious problem, with drivers taking their eyes off the road 4.6 seconds out of 6. (Scott, GRPress) According to a study by the Virginia Teach Transportation Institute (VTTI), a driver who is texting is 23.2 times more likely to get into an accident than a non-texting driver.
Violations would be punished with a civil infraction but would not face any points on their license. Fines would range per offense, starting at $200 for a first offense. (Senate Bill Additions) It is noted that texting, under Michigan law, would be treated as a secondary offense, meaning that texting is not reason enough for an officer to pull a driver over. This may weaken the legislation; though filled with good intentions, it is nearly unenforceable and drivers will be able to easily fight the fine and charge. However, if successfully enforced, it may prove to be a source of revenue for the state; this is due to the fact that 11% of driver's are using cell phones at any time. (Senate Fiscal Agency)
Many states have either lead the way or followed suit in the fight against distracted driving; so far, 19 states have banned texting. The next step is a nation wide ban. This is a wildly popular bill, even those who often text while driving are rallying in support. Other notable organizations supporting the bill are AAA, AT&T (who has placed anti-text message billboards/commercials), Ford Motor Company, and police agencies. (House Fiscal Agency)
Though many have supported the measures, the actual enforcement of this bill is weak. In New Hampshire, texting while driving is considered a primary offense and has been in place since January 2010. Police officials need to be able to pull over a driver for solely texting and not waiting until when an accident is caused; another interesting fact is that the cop has to prove the driver was texting in some other way than phone records- as in New Hampshire, they do not have access to the cell phone to see if said driver was actually texting, this brings up a tricky situation. It also does not tackle the problem of distracted driving as a whole; though texting is a serious problem, it is not the only distraction while driving; eating, applying makeup, and rummaging through backseats are other examples.
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