LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Advocates are making a push to get legislation passed that would make a real difference in regards to distracted driving deaths.
People who support the bills said that time is of the essence.
With Memorial Day kicking off what’s referred to as “the 100 deadliest days of summer” with vehicle deaths increasing by 15%.
Advocates hope the new laws would lower the numbers, if they could just get them passed.
“People are going to die in Michigan needlessly if these bills don’t pass,” said Steve Kiefer, the chairman of the Kiefer Foundation.
Kiefer lost his son, Mitchel, in Sept. of 2016 in a crash caused by a distracted driver. He started the Kiefer Foundation with the goal of ending distracted driving.
On Tuesday, key advancements in the bills’ movement were struck down in the Michigan House of Representatives.
“We’ve brought forward what we refer to as ‘hands free Michigan bills,’ these are bills that essentially make it illegal to hold the phone while driving an automobile,” Kiefer continued. “We found yesterday as the voting happened, there were 56 ‘no’ votes.”
It came as a surprise, because the bills had passed unanimously in the House Transportation Committee last week.
If passed, the bills would make it so that any use of an electronic device, aside from emergency calls, or hands-free navigation would be a civil infraction, subject to fines, and points on one’s license.
After multiple violations, one could lose their license.
“People that had committed just two weeks ago, changed their opinions on it,” Kiefer said.
State Rep. John Roth, who had voted ‘yes’ last week turned the bill down, after saying that changes that were requested weren’t actually made.
“We had asked for some amendment changes, the mandatory license removal, the fines, and some of the points,” Roth said. “Those changes were not made.”
Roth added that other representatives would be worried about insurance bills rising, and the impacts on low-income families.
He said that if those changes are made, he thinks Michigan lawmakers will pass the bills.
Lawmakers will take another look at the bills next week.
Kiefer said he will settle for only one option.
“There is no reason that these bills should not pass, this will be the law of the land in Michigan and again, I guarantee we will save lives this summer,” Kiefer concluded.
A copy of the bills are set to appear in front of a state senate committee Thursday afternoon.
If signed into law, Michigan would be the 26th state with a ban on hand-held devices while driving.