The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

New Michigan legislation cracks down on distracted driving

Courtesy Detroit News

On June 7. Michigan signed a new distracted driving ban into law that went into effect on June 30. Texting while driving has been banned in Michigan since 2010, however this new law prohibits the use of hand-held devices or cell phones for any task while driving. 

The specific restrictions include, but are not limited to, sending or receiving text messages and phone calls, watching videos and accessing, reading, or posting to social media sites. Engaging in any of these activities is considered a primary offense. 

However, there are some exceptions to this rule in emergency situations, for devices integrated into vehicles and devices that are used in a “hands-free” mode. 

Officers say drivers should mount their phones on their dashboard or air vents in order to use their devices for directions while driving. 

“When (your phone) is docked, it does not mean you can push multiple buttons. You may push one button or one swipe to turn on and off the feature of that phone, or select a phone number or name within your phone,” Grand Valley State University’s Department of Public Safety Chief Brandon DeHaan said. 

According to the Detroit News the penalties for breaking the law are multilevel. The first offense is either a $100 fine or 16 hours of community service. The second offense is either a $250 fine or 24 hours of community service. If a person accumulates three or more violations in less than 3 years then they will be required to complete a basic driving improvement course. 

If an accident occurs due to any type of hand-held cell phone, use the penalty will double. 

Assistant Professor of Writing at GVSU Kylie Jacobsen said there was a nearly identical law placed in Ohio in early April of 2023. WLWT5 reported that after one month of the Ohio law being in effect, there was a 9.1% reduction in distracted driving. 

Jacobson said the implementation of the similar bill in Michigan makes her hopeful for more focused drivers throughout the state.

“I am hopeful that a similar decrease in distracted driving will be reflected in Michigan in general, but especially in areas with high foot-traffic, like the GVSU campus,” Jacobsen said.

However, some people feel as though this new law will be hard to enforce, or not really be enforceable at all. However, according to WZZM13, Kent County officers are actively engaged in enforcing the law. One officer, Deputy Michael Scalici, pulled over three drivers violating the new law between 10:30 a.m. and noon on the very first day it went into effect.

GVPD said with the distracted driving legislation  in effect, the campus community is urged to be mindful of their driving habits for their own safety and the safety of others.

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