New state legislation on distracted driving should save lives

We were pleased to see members of the Michigan House of Representatives take a break from the cultural proxy wars they seem to often favor and pass a bit of meaningful legislation this week.

On Tuesday, the state House approved a package of bills updating and modernizing its social media policy and the laws against distracted driving

According to The Associated Press, the measures, which now head to the state Senate, would expand the prohibition to accessing social media while driving and expanding the definition of devices to identify numerous electronic devices including cellphones, pagers, laptops, computer tablets and any similar device that is readily removable from a vehicle and is used to write, send, or read text or data or capture images or video through manual input.î

AP reported current Michigan law bans texting while driving, which narrowly means the act of typing a text message on your cell phone. That means a driver can still stream Netflix, shop on Amazon, record a TikTok or take a Zoom call on-camera while driving and still be legal.

Penalties for distracted driving would increase. Under the current law, the first offense is a civil fine of $100 and $200 for each subsequent offense. Under the new legislation, AP noted the first offense could cost drivers $100 or 16 hours of community service and then $250 for each subsequent offense and/or possibly 24 hours of community service. If the driver is involved in a crash while they are on an electronic device, the civil fines would be doubled.

On the second violation under the proposed legislation, a driver would accumulate one point against their driving record and two points for each subsequent violation, said AP.

We view all of the above as exceedingly good news. Distracted driving is, in a word, deadly. Assuming the Senate OKs the changes, lives will be saved as a result.


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