Many Americans take driving for granted. It brings a sense of freedom, is a staple of American culture, and American cities are designed with driving in mind. But because so many people take driving for granted, it is easy to forget that when you get behind the wheel, you are operating a complex piece of equipment weighing 1 ton or more at speeds of 20 to 75 miles per hour. When a piece of machinery that big traveling that fast collides with something, the results can be catastrophic. This is why distracted driving in Michigan is taken incredibly seriously.
Anyone who drives knows logically that driving demands a driver’s full and undivided attention. Yet many people get behind the wheel and engage in other tasks like texting or talking on the phone, eating or drinking, reading, talking with passengers in the car, adjusting the radio or navigation system, or engaging in personal grooming like shaving or applying makeup.
Over half of all drivers in America admit to distracted driving. This is a concerning statistic when you consider that distracted driving is a contributing factor in thousands of deaths every year, and a cause of even more accidents that result in significant injuries.
But what is distracted driving, exactly? And how do we prevent it?
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving occurs any time a driver is engaged in an activity that takes their attention away from operating a motor vehicle.
Experts have identified three types of distracted driving.
Regardless of the cause, many experts believe that distracted driving is more dangerous than driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. And even though most drivers know the dangers of driving while distracted, a DriversEd.com survey shows that more than half of drivers surveyed admit to distracted driving.
Texting while driving is one of the most dangerous forms of distracted driving because it involves all three forms of distracted driving.
According to the NHTSA, driving while texting is even more dangerous than driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A study by the Transport Research Lab found that writing a text message slows driver reaction time by 35% while driving alcohol with a Blood Alcohol Content at the legal limit only slowed reactions by 12%.
In 2009, Car and Driver conducted a driving test on a closed airport runway to compare response times of drivers who were texting versus drivers who were slightly intoxicated. The results were sobering. On a straight road with no traffic, pedestrians, or road signals, response time while texting was almost three times slower than someone who was intoxicated. When driving at highway speeds of 70 mph, this equates to traveling over 300 feet, or more than the length of a football field, without looking at the road.
To combat distracted driving in Michigan, legislators have passed laws that make it illegal to read, write, or send text messages while behind the wheel.
Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving, even in hands-free mode.
Commercial drivers and school bus drivers are prohibited from using handheld devices while behind the wheel.
The cities of Detroit and Battle Creek have outlawed the use of handheld cell phone use while driving.
Using a cell phone or other handheld device while driving is a primary offense in Michigan, which means a police officer can stop and cite someone they see sending a text message or checking email while driving a vehicle.
Fortunately, the path to avoiding driving while distracted is straightforward.
Start by eliminating distractions when you get behind the wheel. Don’t answer a phone call or text message. Many cell phones allow users to automatically send a text message telling recipients that the user is driving and will call or text them later.
Avoid adjusting a GPS, radio, or other entertainment device while operating a vehicle. Making these adjustments before you get on the road is safer and eliminates distractions while driving. If you have passengers in the vehicle with you, ask them to take care of navigation, calls, texts, climate control, entertainment, and other potential distractions.
Eat before you get on the road or, if you’re on a long trip, pull off the road while you eat and drink.
Finally, if a distraction is unavoidable, find a safe place to pull over rather than trying to address the matter while the vehicle is in motion.
If you were injured or someone you love was killed in an accident with a distracted driver, you and your family may be entitled to compensation.
At Muth Law, our lawyers have been helping people who have been hurt in car accidents for over 35 years. We understand Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws and negotiate with insurance companies to maximize our clients’ financial recovery so they can focus on their physical and emotional well-being.
We offer a free, confidential consultation and will provide an honest evaluation of your case. When you work with Muth Law, you will never pay a fee unless we recover money for you.
We invite you to learn more about us, to read testimonials from other people we’ve helped, and to contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your case and see how we can help.