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Should Michigan Adopt A Hands-Free Cellphone Law? Lawmakers Urged To Consider Measure

LANSING (WWJ) - There's a new call for Michigan lawmakers to pass a hands-free law as it pertains to cellphones and drivers.

The executive director of the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan (TIA) announced the push for the new law Wednesday morning as Michigan State Police announced a new statewide crackdown on distracted driving.

Authorities say a hands-free law would prohibit any physical manipulation of an electronic device while operating a motor vehicle and forbid a driver from using a hand-held phone. The goal is for all drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel.

"When operating a motor vehicle, we all have a personal responsibility to protect our life and the lives of the innocent people traveling around us," Jim Santilli, executive director of TIA, said in a statement. "One simple distraction, such as a short text message, can change many lives forever."

Officials say drivers who use a cell phone are four times more likely to get into an accident that is serious enough to cause injury. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.

According to TIA, preliminary numbers for 2015 in Michigan indicate 26 people were killed and 3,427 were injured in 7,361 motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver or driver using a cell phone. Those numbers are up from 2014, in which 14 people were killed and 2,429 were injured in 5,427 motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver or driver using a cell phone.

"Distracted driving is an epidemic in our country," Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue, director of the Michigan State Police, said in a statement. "Drivers who engage in this dangerous activity put their lives and others at risk."

Santilli, who also serves as the chairman of the Governor's Traffic Safety Advisory Commissions' Distracted Driving Action Team, said TIA will be sending a recommendation to the Michigan Legislature in hopes they will consider a hands-free law.

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