We know it's wrong. We know it's distracting and can end with devastating, even deadly consequences. Yet we still do it. And we need to stop.
In March, Kelsey's Law went into effect. The law bans hand-held cell phone use for young drivers with a level 1 or 2 graduated license.
While this kind of legislation was long overdue in the state, we feel the law should go even further. Cell phones should be restricted for everyone -- we'd like to see a complete hand-held ban for all Michigan drivers.
The National Safety Council estimates at least 28 percent of all traffic crashes -- that's 1.6 million crashes each year -- involve drivers using cell phones. Of that number, it's believed at least 200,000 of those crashes involve drivers who are texting.
It's believed that at any one time, 11 percent of drivers are using cell phones. And it doesn't take much -- just a couple seconds with your eyes off the road -- to become distracted. Texting, or dialing a number, takes your eyes off the road for 4.6 seconds on average. At 55 miles-per-hour, that's like driving the length of an entire football field, blindfolded.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drivers who use hand-held devices are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. In addition, driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37 percent.
Currently, 10 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving.
Public opinion research conducted in 2009 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and Nationwide Insurance, shows public support for total bans on cell phones was right around 50 percent.
Since passenger driving behavior and laws fall under the jurisdiction of individual states, we call on our lawmakers to make our roads safer.
We applauded Michigan for its law banning texting while driving in 2010. We are thrilled to see Kelsey's Law go into effect. And now we call on Michigan to go one step further before more accidents happen, more people become statistics.
Gov. Rick Snyder said his signing of Kelsey's Law wasn't intended to clear the way for a statewide cell phone ban. Yet, the numbers are clear -- thousands die on roadways each year because they are on their phones. It needs to stop.
There's no phone call or text message that important.
It's time for Michigan to ban behind the wheel hand-held cell phone use for all drivers.