A new Michigan law prohibits teen drivers from using a cell phone while driving a car.
According to MichiganVotes.org, Senate Bill 756 applies to any driver with a temporary drivers permit or a level 1 or 2 graduated license—meaning any driver under the age of 17. The law, building on current texting and driving laws, makes it a civil infraction for a teen to use a hands-on cell phone.
Dubbed "Kelsey's Law," the legislation is named for a 17-year-old Sault Ste. Marie girl who died in a car crash in 2010 while she was using her cell phone.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law Tuesday.
"This law means a lot to me, both as governor and as a parent of a young person who is learning to drive,” Snyder said in a press release. “I appreciate the efforts of Kelsey’s mother, Bonnie, and family who have worked tirelessly to get the message out about the dangers of distracted driving. We should be doing everything we can to make sure beginning drivers are focused on learning how to drive. I believe this law will help them gain that experience while reinforcing their responsibilities behind the wheel.”
The law passed 74-33 in the House of Representatives and 28-10 in the Senate. Former Rep. Mark Ouimet of Scio Township supported the legislation, along with Sen. Rebekah Warren and Sen. Randy Richardville.
Because violation of the law is a civil infraction, it is up to local municipalities to determine the fine.
The legislation adds to state driving laws that prohibit texting while driving.
In Dexter and Chelsea, there were five traffic accidents involving distracted driving in 2011; in two of those, the driver responsible was using a cell phone, according to the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan.
In Michigan last year, drivers were reported to be distracted in 3,986 crashes, and using cell phones in 821 crashes.