State officials introducing legislation in hopes of combating distracted driving

Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-06 16:52:39-04

It's another way to combat distracted driving.

State officials are introducing legislation in hopes that drivers will put down their phones and other electronic devices.

"No text messages, social media update, email or other distractions are worth putting a life in jeopardy," said Jim Santilli, the CEO of the Transportation Improvement Association.

He and State Representative Martin Howrylak have worked together to create new legislation to combat distracted driving.

Right now, Michigan drivers can hold the phone and talk while driving.

While there is a ban against texting and driving, some law enforcement officials say it's not enough.

Lt. Aaron Burgess of Sterling Heights Police said, "This law is trying to fill some of the gaps and it's trying to plug some of the holes that are in the existing law. It's also trying to put more of a penalty out there so that people understand 'I can't afford this. I don't need to do this.'"

The penalty would begin with a $250 fine for first time violators and up to a $500 fine with two points on your license for a third time offender.

The new law is simple, you cannot have the phone or any electronics device in your hand while on the road.

That means no excuse for texting, using it to make a call or checking emails.

However, you can touch your phone if it is mounted on windshield or dashboard and if it can be activated by a single swipe or tap.

This is meant to keep drivers' hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

State Rep. Martin Howrylak said, "It's common sense. Drive. Don't drive and attempt to do something other than driving at the same time. You can't do it."

"Any driver that is texting, emailing or doing any other physical manipulation of an electronic device is looking down for 4.6 of every 6 seconds. So, if we put that in perspective, if you are traveling at 55 MPH that's the equivalent of driving the length of a football field while blindfolded," Santilli explained.

Right now, the legislation is in the process of being assigned a bill number.

Officials are hoping to get the legislation on the governor's desk by the end of the year.

They say there is a possibility it may have to be tweaked along the way.