Stronger cellphone laws in MI may save lives

Although texting and driving is banned in Michigan, talking on cellphones is legal despite the dangers of cognitive distraction.

Texting and driving has proven to be a deadly practice for motorists across the country. In 2013 alone, 424,000 people were injured and 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving car accidents, according to Distraction.gov. As a result, 46 states, including Michigan, have enacted laws banning motorists from texting and driving. In Michigan, texting and driving is a primary law, meaning law enforcement officers can pull over and ticket any drivers found engaging in the illegal activity. Although this law may help to decrease the number of people who text while behind the wheel, studies show that talking on a hand-held or hands free cellphone while driving is dangerous as well.

Types of distraction

According to Distraction.gov, there are three main types of distraction. They include:

  • Cognitive distractions: Tasks that divert the motorist's attention away from driving.
  • Manual distractions: Tasks that require drivers to use their hands and remove them from the steering wheel.
  • Visual distractions: Drivers are required to take their eyes off of the road in order to engage in the task.

Texting and driving utilizes all three types of distractions, and is therefore considered especially dangerous. However, studies conducted by the National Safety Council show that even talking on a cellphone while driving can pose a danger to motorists and everyone else on the road.

Cognitive distraction and driving

A young boy in Grand Rapids lost his life when a woman talking on a hands free cellular device ran through a red light and smashed into the side of the vehicle he was traveling in. Witnesses to the accident reported that the woman had both hands on the wheel and was looking straight ahead when she passed the other cars that were stopped at the red traffic signal. According to the NSC, this is an example of cognitive distraction and inattention blindness.

Researchers found that drivers who are engaged in a conversation while driving are unable to see and respond to up to 50 percent of the information in their driving environment. This makes it difficult for motorists to respond to certain stimuli, including pedestrian crossings, traffic signals, objects in the road, inclement weather and other drivers' behavior.

Contact an attorney for legal assistance

People who choose to drive while distracted should pay the consequences for their actions. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one as a result of driver negligence, you may want to contact a personal injury attorney who may be able to assist you with your case.

Keywords: texting, distracted, driving, accident, injury