Reintroduced bill would ban cell phones while driving

LANSING — State Rep. Gino Polidori (D-Dearborn) plans to reintroduce legislation that would make it illegal to use cell phones while driving in Michigan.


A similar bill, one that banned text messaging while driving, passed in the final days of the December session of the Legislature.


“I said I’d be bringing it back,” Polidori said. “We don’t need distracted drivers causing accidents. Driving a car or a truck is serious business.”


He cited a recent statement issued by the National Safety Council, which asked for state legislatures across the country to ban cell phone use and texting while driving. Six states and the District of Columbia ban hand-held cell phone use while driving.


Polidori’s bill would impose a $100 fine on anyone caught using a cell phone during the commission of another traffic infraction. The ban would not be a primary cause for a stop by police.


However, like the seat belt law, if a driver is found speeding, impairing traffic or causing an accident and using a cell phone, the secondary ticket is issued.


The NSC cited a study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis estimating that 6 percent of all accidents are attributable to cell phone use.


“The studies just confirm what we drivers already know,” Polidori said. “We see people who are busy talking on the phone and aren’t paying attention to the road. How many times have we seen brake lights on freeways because people brake when they’re dialing their cell phones? If a call is that important, pull over and make it.”


Polidori’s bill would allow cell phone use during certain conditions. If drivers see a person in trouble, witness an accident or are having an emergency themselves, they are allowed to use a phone to call police and make a report.


Several Michigan cities, including Dearborn, Allen Park, Detroit and Southfield, don’t allow cell phone use while driving. Polidori’s bill was introduced in the last legislative session to make the ban statewide, so that drivers are not caught unaware when rules change at municipal boundaries.


Polidori also noted that the majority of European countries have all-out bans on cell phone use while driving.


“It’s common sense, and this session we need to pass the ban in Michigan,” Polidori said. “It will make our roads a lot safer. We all have to remember that driving is a privilege, not a right.”