Michigan House Votes To Ban Drivers Under 18 From Using Cell Phones

WWJ News
December 12, 2019 - 2:30 pm
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 LANSING (WWJ/AP) - Drivers under age 18 would be prohibited from using cell phones, except for in emergencies, under a bill advancing in Michigan's Legislature.

This would expand current state law, which already bars drivers with a learner's or intermediate permit from using a phone while operating a motor vehicle.

The legislation, which cleared the House on Wednesday, would also eliminate an exception that allows those with the graduated level one and two licenses use a voice-activated phone system in the car.

Some traffic safety advocates want an even tougher bill, however.

Jim Santilli, the Chief Executive Officer from the Transportation Improvement Association, says the legislation won't do much good unless it's paired with a total hands-free bill covering all drivers.

"Really, it's a smiler problem with Michigan's current texting law; House Bill 4181 will be very difficult to enforce," Santilli said. "The reason being is law enforcement officers just driving down the road don't know the age of the drivers that are traveling on our roadways."

Santilli said it's not just teens that are the problem. Drivers of all ages, he said, are doing it. 

"You know, there's all different types of distractions out there," he said, "but right now, I think we can all agree, when we travel down the roadway we can see far too many people with those phones in their hands and they're not paying attention. They don't have their eyes on the road or hands on the wheel, so I think this is something we really have to focus on." 

"We have a lot of elected officials who feel like government shouldn't be telling people what to do. But, you know again, we have innocent people traveling on our roadways. Driving's not a right; it's a privilege," he added. "I don't understand why anyone would argue the fact that drivers shouldn't be required to keep their eyes on the road and hands on wheel while driving."

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer supports the bill and is urging the Senate to pass it after it returns to session in January.