Michigan bill targets cell phone use in vehicles

| 10/2/2007

An effort in the Michigan House that is intended to make the state’s roadways safer by prohibiting drivers from talking on hand-held cell phones while driving could come up for consideration in the final months of the legislative session.

Drivers would be prohibited from using the devices while behind the wheel. Talking on a phone equipped with a “hands-free” accessory would still be permitted.

Sponsored by Rep. Gino Polidori, D-Dearborn, the bill would make it a secondary offense to drive while chatting – meaning a person would have to be pulled over for another violation, such as speeding, before they could be ticketed for talking on the phone. It also would prohibit drivers from text messaging.

Polidori said the proposed cell phone restriction would help make the state’s roads safer.

“The state has seat-belt laws to protect drivers, and we prohibit drunken driving to eliminate threats to other drivers and innocent bystanders. A cell phone restriction would serve both purposes,” Polidori said in a written statement.

Violators would face $100 fines. No points would be added to offenders’ driver’s licenses.

Emergency calls would be exempted.

Currently, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York have the only statewide laws restricting cell phone use in vehicles. In 2008, California and Washington are slated to implement their own rules.

Only Washington has included “texting” while driving in their ban.

Polidori’s bill – HB4982 – is in the House Transportation Committee. It must pass through the House and Senate before the Legislature finishes up their work by the end of the year.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Michigan in 2007, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor