LANSING (WWJ) – There’s a push in Lansing to keep young drivers off the phone when they’re behind the wheel.
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said the Michigan House Transportation Committee is expected to discuss legislation on Wednesday that would prohibit teen drivers from using cell phones while driving.
“It basically says that if you’re a 16- or 17-year-old driver with a graduated driver’s license, put that cell phone in your pocket and do not use it except in emergencies,” he said.
The law would prohibit teens from placing a call, answering a call, or listening to or engaging in “verbal communication through the cellular telephone.” It would not apply, however, to drivers using a voice-operated system that’s integrated into the vehicle.
Violators face a $100 fine and a civil penalty.
Supporters say the law could prevent countless tragedies, while opponents say it should be common sense for people not to use cellphones while driving.
The bill is known as “Kelsey’s Law,” named after 17-year-old Kelsey Raffaele, who died in a car crash while talking on her cell phone. The Michigan Senate approved the bill by a 28-10 vote in March.
If the House doesn’t take action before the end of the year, the bill must be reintroduced and go through the Senate again before it can be approved.
Other restrictions that drivers with a level 1 or 2 graduated license currently have to follow include no driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., and having no more that one passenger who is less than 21-years-old at any given time – both which carry exceptions for employment and authorized school or religious activity, or accompaniment by a parent or legal guardian.