Governor Gretchen Whitmer says she wants to take action on distracted driving, but will it work?
“It is time for Michigan to join the 16 states that have passed hands-free laws to keep our roads and our kids safe. So let’s make it happen,” Whitmer said during her State of the State address Tuesday.
Whitmer introduced the Kiefer family, whose son, Mitchel, was killed by a distracted driver on I-96 near Williamston.
Marv Berkowitz, the founder of the non-profit group Fathers Against Distracted Driving, says Whitmer’s proposal would encourage drivers to keep both hands on the wheel.
“It is a constructive step,” he said. “However, we must remember that in order for a law to be effective, it has to be followed by the citizens of the state, and enforced.”
The idea to go hands-free is not a new one in Michigan. Starting Friday, it will be illegal for people to drive while holding their cell phones in Battle Creek. Drivers will face a $100 fine on their first offense. There are exceptions, such as if the driver is reporting a crime or some other type of emergency.
Michigan also has Kelsey’s law, which bans new drivers from using cell phones while driving.
Berkowitz says while laws are a start, what’s really needed is education on why distracted driving is so dangerous. He added while society seems to be addicted to their cell phones, those aren’t the only things causing wrecks.
“Eating, and drinking, and smoking, and playing with the infotainment systems in the cars. Having serious conversations with people, blasting music,” he said. “We need a wholesale change of attitude of drivers.”