Auto Club Pushing MI Lawmakers to Pass New Distracted Driving Bills

Citing “education and legislation as key factors in changing driving behavior,” AAA, the Auto Club Group, is encouraging the Michigan Legislature to approve three bills currently under consideration, all of which would help modernize the state’s distracted driving laws.

The package of bills (HBs 4277,  4278 and 4279), which have cleared the House Judiciary Committee, would address a variety of issues, including banning the use of handheld devices to include social media, video streaming and other cell phone technologies.

Tiffany Hauser, Director of Government Relations, AAA, tells us, “AAA-The Auto Club Group applauds the House Judiciary Committee for passing these three bills,” and adds, “Distracted driving remains a growing traffic safety problem here in Michigan. Our research shows that education and legislation are key factors in changing driving behavior.”

According to 2019 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

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  • Distracted driving crashes killed 3,142 people in the United States – an average of 9 deaths per day.
  • That number was up 10-percent from the year before (2,839 deaths in 2018).
  • In Michigan alone, there were 64 fatal crashes involving a distracted driver, resulting in 71 fatalities in 2019.
  • Click this link to view more information from AAA’s report: Distracted-Driving-Fatalities-Fact-Sheet-March-2021-FINAL

Michigan’s current distracted driving law only addresses texting while driving. It does not prohibit the other ways individuals interact with their cellphones such as with mobile apps, social media or even video streaming. That lack of clarity and reference to out-of-date cellphone technology prompted lawmakers to introduce the package of bills that would strengthen Michigan’s existing distracted driving law in an effort to create safer roads.

Sobering statistics

  • Looking away from the road for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • Five seconds of reading an email or text is like driving across a football field while blindfolded.
  • Cognitive distractions last longer than you think and can cause a dangerous crash or fatality. Mental distraction can last up to 27 seconds after dialing, texting or changing the radio station.
  • New teen drivers are 3-times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. Michigan’s graduated driver licensing system is designed to help new drivers gradually learn the rules of the road under less risky conditions.

Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group, says, “Legislation like this will help prevent drivers from becoming another statistic,” and adds, “Today, with the advancements of in-vehicle technology and the use of cellphones in our daily lives, drivers have the potential to be more distracted than ever before. Distracted driving legislation needs to be in line with current trends and these bills are a step in the right direction.”

AAA offers these tips to avoid distracted driving:

  • Put it away. Place your mobile device out of sight to prevent temptation.
  • Know where you’re going. If using a navigation system, program the destination before driving.
  • Pull over. If you must call or text while on the road, pull off the road safely and stop first.
  • Ask passengers for help. If riding with someone, seek their help to navigate, make a call or send a message.
  • Be a good passenger. Speak out if the driver of your vehicle is distracted.
  • Don’t be a distraction. Avoid calling or texting others when you know they are driving.
  • Activate Do Not Disturb. Setting up this feature on iPhone or Android device will prevent calls from coming in while you’re driving.
  • Everyone should avoid distractions while in traffic. Just as drivers need to pay attention, so do pedestrians and bicyclists. Never call, text or play games while walking or cycling.