To ensure drivers get the message, the Michigan Department of Transportation plans 37 signs that read “Michigan Law hands-free device use only” at the state line and border crossings.
House Bills 4250, 4251, and 4252 update the state’s distracted driving laws to account for new technology, making Michigan the 26th state to adopt hands-free driving laws.
Previously, drivers could not hold or use their cell phones. The new law prohibits holding or using a mobile device to:
- Send or receive a phone call.
- Send or receive a text message.
- View, record, or send a video.
- Read, or post to a social networking site.
The laws apply when drivers are at red lights or stop signs since they are still operating a vehicle.
Drivers can use their phone to make calls for emergencies or to report calls. GPS systems are still allowed as long as drivers use voice-activated commands.
Violators could be subject to a $100 fine and/or 16 hours of community service. Second-time offenders could be issued a $200 fine and/or 24 hours of community service.
For bus drivers or those operating commercial vehicles, the fines are $200 and/or 32 hours of service for first offenses and $500 and/or 48 hours of community service for subsequent offenses.
Fines are doubled if a driver caught using their cell phone also caused a crash.
After two offenses, offenders can get one point on their license. Three or more offenses get two points.
Those with three violations in three years would have to take driving improvement courses.
What people are saying
Charles Douglas, 50, of Detroit called the measure “another law that takes our freedoms away,” predicting it will do a better job collecting money than saving lives.
“You already make us wear a seatbelt and charge us if we don’t,” he said. “You make me use my cell phone hands-free and you charge me if I don’t. What’s free today is not free anymore.”
DJ Johnson, a 22-year-old Detroit resident and owner of Fricken Good Cookies, said he’s a hands-on phone driver and that the law will force him to be more mindful. He said he’s ordered hands-free sets for himself and his father.
“It’s gonna be a really hard transition for most people, but give people time and when they start getting tickets people will start to comply,” he said.
As an Instacart driver, the new law will be challenging for Tom Staton. The Detroiter said it’s a key part of his deliveries and “you have to be real quick to get your swipes to get your orders in.
“So if I can’t have my phone in my hand, at least on the side, it becomes an issue where I’m not making the same amount of money,” he told BridgeDetroit.
“I understand the safety part of it because not everyone is doing it for work,” he said. “Some people are just on their phones. At the same time, I feel like there is a lot of gray area that goes on. I mean, I see cops on their phones all the time. So saying that they can’t be on their phones at a red light is going to be an issue.”