May 11, 2023
Legislation prohibiting drivers from being on their phones while driving is ready to head to the governor’s desk.
The House voted to concur with the Senate amendments to HB 4250, HB 4251, and HB 4252. The changes mean the law will be enacted on June 30 rather than at the end of May, as the House originally intended. The Senate voted on the legislation Wednesday.
HB 4250, sponsored by Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), which creates penalties for operating a vehicle while sending or receiving a message on an electronic device, passed 71-36. HB 4251, sponsored by Rep. Tyrone Carter (D-Detroit), provides sentencing guidelines and passed 69-38. HB 4252, sponsored by Rep. Mike Mueller (R-Linden), requires a record or report of violations of the new law to be sent to the secretary of state and passed 70-37.
Each of the bills passed the House concurrence vote with more support than they did originally.
“The House took an immense step toward making our roads and highways safer for all Michiganders, and I am elated that this bill passed with bipartisan support from my colleagues,” Koleszar said in a statement issued following the bill’s passage. “The passed legislation was necessary, as distracted driving accounts for about 25% of all fatal crashes in Michigan. That isn’t just a statistic, but it represents real lives lost. Something needs to be done to protect Michiganders while they are driving on the roads, and this bill does just that.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signaled she will sign the legislation.
“Distracted driving kills. The bills passed today will update our laws to reduce crashes and save lives,” Whitmer said. “I first called for this commonsense legislation in my first State of the State address in 2019. The bills would only allow hands-free calls and texting and increase penalties for drivers who text or post on social media while behind the wheel.”
In 2021, 16,543 crashes in Michigan involved a distracted driver, according to the most recent state data. Those crashes led to thousands of injuries, and 59 resulted in a fatality. In Michigan, fatal distracted driving-related crashes where the driver was using a cell phone increased by 88% between 2016 and 2020. Messaging or using social media while driving has become especially problematic among younger drivers, as they accounted for 18.1% of distracted driving crashes but account for only 6.7% of drivers.
“As we enter another record-breaking construction season, we need everyone to keep their eyes on the road so they can protect themselves, other drivers, and the hardworking men and women fixing our damn roads,” Whitmer said. “Let’s get this done so we can make our streets safer for every Michigander and ensure law enforcement have the tools they need to protect motorists.”