These devices are very useful to us.
However, these devices can also be a form of distraction — more specifically, distracted driving.
It’s usually tempting to look at your phone to check your notifications or scroll through social media if you’re stuck in traffic. But every second you spend glancing at your screen is a moment your focus isn’t on the road.
And that could be a recipe for disaster.
It’s not surprising, then, that Michigan enacts a cell phone law to avoid distracted driving.
Now, to help you be a safe driver, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about the Michigan cell phone law.
Are you ready?
Cell Phone Laws in Michigan
Since 2013, Michigan has enforced a law prohibiting drivers from texting while driving.
However, this law had several loopholes.
Although teens were prohibited from using their phones at all, adults could access streaming services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video and not violate the law. They could also browse social media platforms and still be compliant.
Since the law only focused on texting, it didn’t stop drivers from using their phones while behind the wheel. In turn, it didn’t do much to help distracted driving.
In January 2022, the Michigan House of Representatives passed new house bills to strengthen the existing cell phone laws.
Let’s see what the new Michigan cell phone law has to say.
“House Bill 4277 will continue to allow the use of phones for communicating if drivers use them in hands-free mode. However, it closes the loop on social media platforms — you can no longer view or post content while driving. This house bill also stops drivers from viewing or transmitting videos while behind the wheel.”
“House Bill HB4279 continues to prohibit teen drivers from using mobile phones, whether or not they are in hands-free mode. It also states that all parts of the new cell phone law should also apply to teens.”
NOTE: At the moment, these new house bills are not yet signed into law.
If you’re wondering why the cell phone law in Michigan is called Kelsey’s Law, then let’s give a short explanation.
The law is rooted in the untimely death of Kelsey Raffaele. She was a 17-year-old who died in a car crash while talking on the phone in 2010.
Her mother, Bonnie, worked tirelessly with the Michigan legislature. Her efforts paid off when two years after her daughter’s death, Michigan had a new law, aptly named Kelsey’s Law.
Kelsey was a victim of distracted driving.
Cell Phone Penalties in Michigan
Teen drivers spotted using their phones while behind the wheel may have to pay fines up to $295.
If a law enforcement officer pulls an adult over for texting while driving, they’ll have to pay a $100 fine for a first offense. The penalty increases to $200 for each violation after that.
Under the new house bills, though, the penalties are expected to get harsher. This includes higher fines, community service, and even license suspensions.
Other Forms of Distracted Driving
To be sure, using your cell phone isn’t the only form of distracted driving — even if it’s the only one that has a law against it.
Distractions come in three forms:
- Visual – causes your eyes to focus on something other than the road ahead
- Manual – causes you to take your hands off the steering wheel
- Cognitive – causes you to take your focus off the task of driving
NOTE: The danger of using your phone while driving is that it applies to the 3 forms of distracted driving, which is why there is so much focus placed on it.
However, there are other ways you can get distracted while driving. Here are some common examples:
- Eating or drinking
- Trying to reach for something in the backseat
- Grooming or putting on makeup
- Having unrestrained pets in the car
- Having rowdy passengers (whether children or friends)
- Playing loud music
- Adjusting controls (climate controls or GPS)
How to Avoid Distracted Driving
Whether you realize it or not, many things can pull your attention from the task at hand. This is why it’s essential to know how you can avoid them.
Here are some strategies you can try to avoid distracted driving:
- Out of sight, out of mind. Keep your phone where it won’t be in your direct line of sight. It’ll also be better if you put it on silent mode.
- Be in the right state before getting behind the wheel. It’s crucial to be in the right place physically, mentally, and emotionally before pulling into the street. If you’re hungry, exhausted, or angry, deal with that before attempting to operate a vehicle.
- Manage your passengers’ expectations. Tell your friends how crucial it is for you to keep your attention on the road. Try to explain to your children that you’re doing it for their safety, not just yours.
- Only bring your pets if you have the proper equipment. Remember, your pet might injure itself if you let it roam in your car while moving. In turn, it can cause you so much distraction.
- Don’t try to do several things at once. Applying your makeup, fixing your hair, or looking for your wallet can wait until you’ve reached your destination. If it can’t wait, pull over — don’t try to do it while you’re still moving.
To end, let’s answer some FAQs about distracted driving in Michigan.
Can you text at a red light in Michigan?
Yes, you can. Although it’s highly discouraged, you’re not violating Michigan’s no-texting rule when you’ve stopped at a red light.
Is it illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving in Michigan?
Drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses aren’t allowed to use their phones while driving in Michigan, even if it’s hands-free. So this question is a no-brainer.
However, adults can talk on their cell phones if they have hand-free features.
Can I sue a distracted driver for a car accident in Michigan?
Yes, you can pursue damages if you sustained injuries in an accident and the other driver was distracted.
How many points are texting and driving in Michigan?
Texting and driving give you 4 points on your driving record. However, for the points to be added, your distracted driving needs to have caused an accident.
If a police officer just pulls you over for texting and driving, you may have to pay a fine, but you won’t get any points.
Is it illegal to eat and drive in Michigan?
You can eat while driving in Michigan. However, remember that it will take your attention off the driving task, your eyes off the road, and your hands off the steering wheel. And as we learned, this is a form of distracted driving and is very dangerous.
The Wrap Up
There’s a lot of responsibility that comes with driving.
Unfortunately, many things can take our attention from the road — your cell phone being one of the main things.
So keep your cell phone away whenever you get behind the wheel. It’s not just to obey Kelsey’s Law, it’s to keep you and everyone else safe.
Now that you know this, try as much as possible to avoid distractions while driving.
Remember, there’s more at stake than the fines. You can cause an accident and get severely injured.
So keep driving safely!