Mid-Michigan police officers favor hands-free driving law for Michigan

GRAND BLANC TOWNSHIP (WJRT) (02/13/19) - Driving with a phone in your hand -- even if you're not texting -- will be a crime in Battle Creek beginning on Friday.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer proposed extending that to all of Michigan during her State of the State address on Tuesday. If approved, Michigan would be the 17th state with a hands-free driving law.

"You cannot navigate the road if you are looking at your phone," said Whitmer.

During her address, she talked about an 18-year-old Michigan State University student who died in 2016 in a crash with a distracted driver.

According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety and Planning, the number of crashes involving distracted drivers statewide grew from more than 5,300 in 2014 to more than 7,500 in 2015.

"Anything that we can do to keep people focused on driving is definitely be a benefit." said Grand Blanc Township Police Sgt. Scott Theede.

He said distracted driving is an ongoing problem despite Michigan's current law that bans texting while driving.

"There's three main types of distraction that we deal is the visual, where you're taking your eyes off the road, the manual, where you're taking your hands off the wheel, or the cognitive, where you're taking your train of thought off of your driving," Theede said.

Under the legislation expected to be introduced this week, a first offense for using a hand-held mobile device while driving would be punishable by a $100 fine, 16 hours of community service or both.

A second offense could warrant a $250 fine and 24 hours of community services.

Theede said hands-free driving could help officers keep drivers safe on the roads.

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