There’s no doubt that distracted driving continues to pose a threat to Michigan’s motorists. Oftentimes, this distraction is perpetrated by cell phone use, including texting. Michigan enacted a law in 2010 that banned texting and driving, but the law has proven difficult to enforce, and the deterrent effect hasn’t seemed to curtail distracted driving-related accidents much. In fact, 2017 alone saw more than 5,000 accidents attributable to individuals who were using electronic devices behind the wheel. More than 20 of those wrecks proved fatal, with another 1,500 resulting in injuries.
Recognizing the continuing problem, the state legislature is now considering a number of bills that seek to further penalize cell phone usage while driving, including one bill that seeks to make illegal the mere act of holding a cell phone while driving. Legislatures believe that expanding the current ban on texting and driving to include social media posting, as well as increasing fines for first-time offenses, could help curtail distracted driving. Other legislators would like to see motorists rely on hands-free options and have thus suggested outlawing holding a cell phone while driving.
While the outcome of these bills is yet to be seen, the difficulty comes with enforcing enacted laws as well as those that have been proposed. The chances of getting caught holding or using a cell phone while driving seems pretty minimal, which means that it may have very little real effect on the issue of distracted driving.
Also, these criminal penalties do little for those who are injured in a car accident caused by a negligent or distracted driver. These individuals must instead pursue a personal injury lawsuit if they hope to recover compensation for their damages. With that being said, stricter criminal laws may make it easier to demonstrate negligence, thereby, increasing the chances of imposing liability and recovering compensation. An attorney who is skilled at building cases, negotiating resolutions and litigating trials may be of assistance to these victims.