Bills aim to get Michigan drivers to put down the phone


LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Texting and driving is already illegal in Michigan, but there could soon be more penalties for more uses of devices in your vehicle if legislation being considered in Lansing is approved.

Michigan House Bills 4277, 4278 and 4279 would make it illegal to use any hand-held electronic device for almost any purpose while driving: posting on social media or checking e-mail while you’re supposed to be focused on the road.

State Rep. Mari Manoogian, D-Birmingham, along with two Republican colleagues, are sponsoring the three-bill package to combat distracted driving.

“Making sure that Michigan is part of this group of states that is doing everything we can to keep our roads safe. That’s meaning making sure folks are putting down their cellphones while they’re behind the wheel,” she said.

The proposed laws would cover not only phones but also any other electronic device including tablets, laptops or electronic games.

“Just making sure that our phones, our GPS systems are mounted when our hands are on the wheel,” Manoogian said.

Phones or a GPS system could be used as long as they are not accessed manually. In other words, you can’t type in an address or phone number, but you can do it by voice command.

“Many of our automakers have already created the tools that we need to make sure we’re driving safely,” Manoogian said. “So making a phone call if we need to or using a Siri or any other device to send a text message if it’s super necessary, but also making sure we’re being as safe as we can.”

There are a few exceptions for law enforcement and in the case of emergencies but generally the bills prohibit you from picking up that device while driving.

If passed, fines would increase and punishment could include public service.

The bills are already out of committee and awaiting a full floor vote, but it’s uncertain when that may happen.

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