The Michigan Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would make it a secondary offense to read or write text messages or e-mails from a mobile device while driving. (Daily Star Photo/AARON MUELLER)
The Michigan Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would make it a secondary offense to read or write text messages or e-mails from a mobile device while driving. (Daily Star Photo/AARON MUELLER)

Archived Story

Drivers could soon be ticketed for texting

Published 10:59am Thursday, January 28, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

Brittney Shank hates seeing it. She will be driving in her car and another vehicle starts drifting into her lane as the driver has his face glued to his iPhone.

Shank and others who are on edge whenever they see drivers texting while driving are happy to hear that legislation has passed the senate that may curb the number of cell phone-impaired drivers.

The Michigan Senate passed a bill Tuesday by a vote of 31-6 that would prohibit reading or writing texts or e-mails from a mobile device while driving. Similar legislation has already gone through the House.

Both versions of the bill would make texting while driving a secondary offense, meaning police officers would need another reason – like speeding or running a stop sign – to pull over a driver before receiving a ticket for texting.

If the Senate and the House can agree on a final version of the legislation, it would go to Gov. Granholm, who is expected to sign it.

“I think it’s a good thing, because people can’t drive anyways, so they should really concentrate on driving,” Shank, an 18-year-old from Niles, said of the legislation. “Technically you shouldn’t be doing anything while driving because it’s distracting.”

Shank says she has “tons of friends” who text and drive.

“I usually yell at them and tell them to stop,” she said.

A recent study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute revealed that when drivers were texting, their risk of collision was 23 times greater than when not texting. It also showed that in the moments before an accident or near accident, drivers spend almost five seconds looking at their mobile devices.

Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, voted for the measure but also supported a bill that would make texting and driving a primary offense. That vote on that bill was a tie so it did not pass.
“I can’t think of anything much more dangerous than to be texting and taking your eyes off the road,” Jelinek said in a phone interview Wednesday. “This is a serious problem.”
Riley Robson, a 16-year-old student at Niles High School, admits to texting and driving but agrees with the proposed law.

“I do it too, but I think there are a lot of accidents that come from it,” he said. “Personally I’ve experienced going off the road a little bit, so I can see why it’s a hazard.”

Taylor Fuller, also a student at Niles High School, says she has mastered a technique that makes it safer to text and drive.

“I can do it without looking (at my phone) and keep my eyes on the road,” she said. “I don’t think you should be able to be pulled over for just texting, but maybe if you do something else while texting.”

Violators of the law would face a $200 fine for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

Michigan joins 19 other states that have similar texting bans for all drivers.

Dennis Gooldy, 19-year-old student at Lake Michigan College, thinks it’s a good step toward banning doing anything while driving.

“There’s a lot of things that are just as dangerous while driving, like having your book up on your steering wheel,” he said. “I’ve seen that.”

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