Distracted and negligent driving causes far too many unnecessary deaths in the United States each year, as well as too many Southfield car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,450 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2016. This was approximately 10% of all fatal crashes. Additionally, an estimated 391,000 were injured. Southfield car accident lawyer Marc J. Shefman can provide more information regarding Michigan car accident law and how it applies to distracted driving.
What is Distracted or Negligent Driving?
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts your full attention from driving. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Talking or texting on your phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to people in your vehicle
- Manipulating the stereo, entertainment, or navigation system
In short, it is anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.
Texting is by far the most popular distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. Any non-driving activity is a potential distraction and increases your risk of being involved in Southfield car accidents.
Michigan Law and Distracted Driving
Beginning on July 1, 2010, Michigan law prohibits texting while driving. Drivers violating this law are fined $100 on their first offense and $200 for each subsequent offense. Numerous federal laws also exist to deter operators of commercial, government, hazardous materials, and railway vehicles from texting while driving.
Michigan law also prohibits “reckless driving” which is defined as driving a vehicle “in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Generally, the term “willful” refers to conduct that is purposeful or intentional, rather than accidental. Possible penalties for a reckless driving conviction are:
- Standard reckless driving – up to 93 days in jail and/or a maximum $500 fine.
- Reckless driving involving serious injuries – A felony carrying up to five years in prison and/or $1,000 to $5,000 in fines. The judge must also order that the motorist’s vehicle be immobilized for up to 180 days or forfeited altogether.
- Reckless driving involving death – A felony carrying up to 15 years in prison and/or $2,500 to $10,000 in fines. The judge must also order that the motorist’s vehicle be immobilized for up to 180 days or forfeited altogether.
- A reckless driving conviction also results in a 90-day license suspension and six demerit points going on the motorist’s driving record—likely meaning increased insurance rates.
Michigan law provides for another offense called “careless driving.” It is defined as driving “in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property, but without wantonness or recklessness.” This charge can also be applied to distracted driving violators in certain circumstances. Motorists who are convicted of careless driving face a fine and three points on their driving record. A Southfield car accident lawyer like Marc Shefman can answer specific questions regarding Michigan distracted driving and reckless driving laws.
Suggestions to Eliminate Distracted Driving
The Michigan State Police suggest the following steps and warnings to help you reduce or eliminate instances of distracted driving:
- Get familiar with vehicle features and equipment before pulling out into traffic.
- Preset radio stations, MP3 devices, and climate control.
- Secure items that may move around when the car is in motion.
- Do not text, access the Internet, watch videos, play video games, search MP3 devices, or use any other distracting technology while driving.
- Avoid smoking, eating, drinking, and reading while driving.
- Pull safely off the road and out of traffic to deal with children.
- Review maps and driving directions before hitting the road.
- Ask a passenger to help with activities that may be distracting.
- If driving long distances, schedule regular stops, every 100 miles or two hours.
- Travel at times when you are normally awake and stay overnight rather than driving straight through.
- Avoid alcohol and medications that may make you drowsy.
Marc J. Shefman – Southfield Car Accident Lawyer
Distracted and negligent driving is the cause of too many Southfield car accidents. Marc J. Shefman is an experienced Southfield car accident lawyer who faithfully serves Metro Detroit, including Oakland, Lapeer, Livingston, St. Clair, Macomb, and Wayne, Genesee, and Washtenaw Counties. Call (248) 298-3003 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation to learn more about how Marc Shefman can help with your Southfield car accident.