Governor signs new Michigan ban on cell phone use while driving

The State of Michigan will soon make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving--although the ban won’t apply to everyone.

“It should be for everybody, you know, but we know the experienced driver is going to still use the phone, but the inexperienced driver’s that’s our main target, we’ve got to get them learning how to drive first,” said Michigan State Police Trooper Rob Herbstreith.

The ban on cell phone use signed by Governor Rick Snyder today will only apply to the state’s most inexperienced drivers: typically 15, 16, and 17 year olds who hold Level 1 or Level 2 probationary licenses.

Cell phones and teenagers sometimes seem to be inseparable, whether there’s walking, biking or even eating involved.

“It’s hard to keep it out of her hands even at the dinner table,” Matthew Johnson of Niles said about his 15 year old daughter. “I think, though, with the support of the governor making this law, it definitely helps us parents.”

The bill signed by Governor Rick Snyder today would place ‘driving’ on the list of things teens can’t do legally while using cell phones. It will be called “Kelsey’s Law” in honor of a 17 year old Sault Ste. Marie girl who died in an accident in January of 2010 while talking on a cell phone.

“This law means a lot to me, both as governor and as a parent of a young person who is learning to drive,” said Governor Snyder. “We should be doing everything we can to make sure beginning drivers are focused on learning how to drive. I believe this law will help them gain that experience while reinforcing their responsibilities behind the wheel.”

The new law takes effect in late March.

Although the ban will apply to a limited number of drivers, it’s hoped the restriction will have a long term impact. “That should carry over, get them used to that habit of not touching that cell phone even at the stop lights, you know, if you’ve got to use it, pull into a parking lot,” said Trooper Herbstreith.

A violation of the cell phone ban would be a civil infraction with the penalty to be determined by local jurisdictions.
A violation would not add points against a driver’s license.

The probationary drivers targeted by the ban already face additional restrictions. Typically, they can’t drive past a 10:00 p.m. curfew and can’t carry more than one unrelated passenger under the age of 21.

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