As a whole, it seems that our national thirst for the latest and fastest technology gizmos cannot be quenched. We want information at our fingertips - and our ability to text, e-mail and even search the internet at high speed on small, portable handheld devices has introduced us to an era of seemingly endless streams of information across the globe. It is now commonplace to see individuals in "face down" mode as they intently mash the tiny keyboards on their cell phones, iphones and blackberries to text and e-mail everyone and anyone they know. Okay, fair enough. We've become slaves to these tiny devices....but this begs the real question - is it really okay to do this WHILE DRIVING?
THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Around the country, the resounding government response is - absolutely not. As we speak, Democratic lawmakers are seeking a National Texting Ban. In fact, 14 states, as well as the District of Columbia, have already passed laws that outlaw texting while driving.
But does everyone share this view? Not entirely. The Governors Highway Safety Association, for example, which represents state highway safety agencies, said it does not doubt the dangers of texting and driving but it actually does not support a ban because it would be difficult to enforce.
But what about the studies - what do they say? In a recent study released by the Virginia Truck Institute, for example, it was found that when drivers of heavy trucks texted, their collision risk was 23 times greater. Dialing a cell phone or using and reaching for an electronic device increased the risk of collision about six times in cars and trucks. Many other studies mirror these results.
SO WHERE DOES MICHIGAN STAND?
On December 4, 2008, by a 68-32 vote, lawmakers in the Michigan House of Representatives approved legislation which could potentially ban drivers from text messaging on the roadways, except when reporting accidents or crimes. The bill, known as Senate Bill 0402, was sent to the Senate for approval but was referred to the Committee on Transportation on March 24, 2009 and currently appears - albeit only momentarily - stalled. Lawmakers in support of the texting ban say it is aimed at improving personal safety on Michigan roadways, but those opposed say it infringes on personal freedom and introduces too much governmental controls.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Whatever your personal point of view on this issue, it is hard to dispute that statistically clear evidence exists that texting while driving has caused an increase in collisions and serious injury accidents throughout the country. This could also result in increased civil liability and criminal prosecution should serious injury result. As a consequence, aggressive legislative action, both here in Michigan, and across the nation, will soon be put in place to curb this activity on some level.
Whether these traffic laws are enforceable is largely debatable. What cannot be questioned, however, is that these traffic laws will likely become yet another weapon in the arsenal for law enforcement to crack down on perceived poor driving across the board. As with any traffic law on the books, there remains the grave potential for widespread abuse by rogue law enforcement personnel attempting to enforce it. Without question, local municipalities have been steadily "ramping up" the number of citations being written in the Detroit Metropolitan area as a means to combat ongoing budgetary and financial shortfalls. As a result of these financial pressures, new laws may be introduced with "good" intentions but may contain such vague language as to be subject to wide range and biased interpretation...and, resulting abuse.
Please feel free to contact a Michigan traffic ticket lawyer at our office at any time and visit our firm for updates on Michigan laws, including greater information regarding traffic ticket defense, and the many other legal services available through our firm.
Have a great week!