Fines doubled and more devices prohibited under new distracted driving bills

A new round of distracted bills seeks to broaden the scope of what is prohibited while behind the wheel.

A trio of bills introduced in the Michigan House last month expands the vehicle code to restrict the use of all electronic devices while driving. The legislation also amends the penal code to include certain punishments for those with three or more violations, as well as requiring a report be sent to political leaders.

The three bills arrived in the legislature in time for April, which is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. 

HB 4250-4252 will be discussed first in the transportation and mobility committee. 

State Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Royal Oak) is sponsoring the piece of legislation that updates the original bill to include more kinds of prohibited devices, as well as includes circumstances when it's okay to use devices. 

"Dangerous incidents tied to distracted drivers continue to increase, making it clear that our state’s motor vehicle laws are out of date and in desperate need of modernization," Koleszar said in a statement March. "This legislation is designed to make our roads safer for every driver and passenger in Michigan, and provide law enforcement with the tools they need to crack down on this dangerous behavior."

Koleszar's bill leaves exceptions for emergency calls.

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It also calls for civil fines to be double the amount of penalties that are administered in other cases that don't involve distracted driving with an electronic device.

Additionally, the bills include a restriction on using a mobile device while operating a vehicle in a work zone. Making construction areas safer was a big theme of last year's April.