Lansing, MI — New legislation to prevent distracted driving takes effect today, June 30, 2023.
To mark the change, Governor Gretchen Whitmer launched a public service announcement reminding Michiganders of the “hands-free” driving laws, which make manual use of electronic devices while behind the wheel illegal.
“I was proud to sign bipartisan legislation earlier this month to reduce distracted driving in Michigan and save lives,” said Whitmer. “The new law is a step toward reducing distracted driving deaths and making sure everyone can be safe on their way to school, home, or work. By each doing our part to set down the phone and keep our hands, eyes, and mind on the road, we can all contribute to our goal to see zero traffic deaths by 2050.”
If a driver is caught in violation of the new laws, the PSA states, they may face fines or 24 hours of community service.
The hands-free driving legislation follows guidance from the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC), which was formed by an executive order in 2002 to identify traffic safety challenges and champion strategies to address them.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, GTSAC develops regular Strategic Highway Safety Plans to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways. Its last plan, developed in 2019, had a focus on distracted driving.
“By working together, Michigan’s traffic safety partners have been able to reduce distracted driver fatalities by six percent and reduce fatalities involving drivers under 21 by eight percent,” the release states, adding that after introducing a hands-free law in April, Ohio has seen a nine percent drop in distracted driving in just one month, preventing over 500 crashes.
Katie Bower, director of the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning, said while there are improvements in some areas, there is still much work to be done to stop risky-driving behaviors like distracted driving.
“We need to take distracted driving as seriously as we do drunk or drugged driving because they all have similar, tragic outcomes,” Bower said. “This new law helps deter people from holding and manually using their mobile devices while driving. With the assistance of available technology, there is no excuse to take your hands off the wheel. Our message is simple: Just drive. We must educate drivers about these dangerous driving behaviors as we work to save lives and prevent crashes and fatalities on our roads.”