Michigan likely to ban holding cell phones while driving

Michigan could be the next state to ban holding a phone while driving, pending Senate approval of a bill that would make it illegal to drive and use a phone or other electronic device in your hand while driving.

The Michigan House passed the bill on distracted driving last week and now, it's the Senate's turn. Assuming the Senate signs off, it will now head to the governor's office where it will likely be signed into law.

The numbers speak for themselves. Based on 2021 data in Michigan, there were 21 deaths and 2,765 crashes all linked to distracted driving. Additionally, crash chances increase 400%. Some say cell phone distraction is just like driving drunk.

Republican Representative Mike Mueller spent 17 years on the sheriff's road patrol and is one sponsor of the bill.

"The technology. And our younger people has really taken them over. They are constantly on their phones - adults are constantly clued to their phones," Rep. Mike Mueller said. "There are 12 states that have these laws. On average, out of those 12 states, they have decreased fatalities by 16%."

The proposal means if you are holding your cell phone and doing anything other than calling 9-1-1- or reporting a crime, you are breaking the law. There is no violation if the phone is mounted.

For the first offense, it's a $250 fine or 16 hours of community service. The fines increase and if convicted three times in three years, you lose your license for 90 days and there are also points on your record which impacts your insurance rates.

"The first one is zero points and a warning. And the next one is one point and the third subsequent violation is two points," Mueller said.

The big challenge here is that drivers are addicted to their phones, but that distraction is a killer. However, lawmakers are hopeful.

Mueller says the legislation will save lives. 

The governor is expected to sign the bill into law when she receives it.