The Michigan House of Representatives today voted on a key public safety measure to ban texting while driving, announced state Reps. Matt Lori and John Proos.
"Distracted driving is a hazard on our roads," said Proos, R-St. Joseph. "We are a society on the go - always cramming in as much activity as possible. Unfortunately, this mentality has put us in great danger on the road, where our sole focus must be our personal safety and the safety of others."
The legislation makes text messaging while driving a secondary offense, meaning that a driver could only be ticketed if he or she had already been pulled over for another infraction, such as speeding or failing to wear a seatbelt. The ban allows exemptions for drivers reporting traffic accidents, medical emergencies and criminal activity.
"Texting while driving is extremely dangerous and should be illegal," said state Rep. Matt Lori, of Constantine. "Frankly, I don't think the bill we passed goes far enough - lawmakers should have made it a primary offense, but I'll take what I can get."
Lori served as sheriff for 20 years before being elected state representative.
Twenty-nine states have passed laws to regulate cell phone use while driving, while six states, the District of Columbia, and some local governments have enacted outright bans of cell phone use while driving. Legislation has been introduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives (HR 3535) and the U.S. Senate (S. 1536) that would reduce by 25 percent the federal transportation funds distributed to states that do not pass a state text messaging ban.
91 percent of Americans think that driving while texting is as dangerous as drunk driving, according to a 2007 Harris Interactive poll. Young people in particular are at danger, as 66 percent of drivers age 18 to 24 admit to sending text messages while driving.