Taking a drive? Don’t pick up your cell phone!

The Michigan hands free distracted driving ban takes effect at the end of this month. We are not alone, as our state is the 26th in the U.S. to enact such a restriction.

The state passed legislation to ban texting and driving more than a decade ago, but safety experts have long contended that that type of rule — on its own –does not do enough to deter distracted driving.

Since the “no texting and driving” law was enacted, cell phones have gone from simple messaging and calling capabilities to a device with full-blown access to the internet, capable of sending pictures, video, providing unlimited internet and social media access.

The new law makes all cell phone use illegal while driving, unless using hands-free devices, according to Michigan.gov.

That makes it illegal to send or receive a call; send, receive or read a text message; view record or transmit a video; or access read or post to a social networking site. The bottom line is, if law enforcement sees a driver holding a phone, they have cause to pull that person over.There are exceptions to the rule, but they are extremely limited.

Any driver cited for violating the law will face a minimum $100 fine and/or community service.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving caused 3,522 traffic deaths in 2021. Distracted driving accounted for 8% of fatal crashes, and 14 percent of injury crashes, the NHTS said.

So it goes without saying, if we could reduce the number of distracted drivers on the road, it would be a good thing.

Now the question is, how will the law be enforced?

Does it put an extra burden on law enforcement officers, or could it be seen as a tool to help raise awareness?

Either way, we know the laws have to change as technology changes. This law seems to be a step in the right direction to stem a growing problem.


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