What would happen, how would law work if this texting accident happened in Michigan?
A woman was texting and driving when she hit a pole that went through her car, piercing her thigh and buttocks and just inches away from a fatal injury. Firefighters had to saw off the front and back end of the pole to get Christina Jahnz out, according to a story I just read a few minutes ago in The Detroit Free Press.
Thankfully, Jahnz survived and is expected to be able to walk after four days in the hospital and more than 40 stitches. The story is all over the news, and the butt (sorry, couldn’t help myself) of many jokes.
But texting while driving is a deadly serious issue folks.
Why do these texting while driving crashes keep occurring? And while this particular texting accident happened in Colorado, here in Michigan, the numbers of car accidents caused by texting while driving is exploding. While no lawyer here has had a client with this specific injury (whew), all of the attorneys who work at Michigan Auto Law are seeing more and more of the people we do help being seriously hurt by drivers who are texting behind the wheel.
In Michigan, there is an answer to the prevalence of distracted driving crashes.
As a refresher, the Michigan texting while driving law ban prohibits reading, typing or sending text messages using a wireless two-way communication device in a person’s hand or lap while driving a car.
But the Michigan texting law only imposes very small fines on drivers. And since there is almost no enforcement, nearly everybody does it.
A law without enforcement isn’t a law.
It is a suggestion.
So people ignore it.
Try driving anywhere and you will see other drivers texting. These drivers continue to text and drive and cause preventable crashes, hurting themselves and other innocent drivers.
The solution has to come from all of us. If the science tells us that people are 23 times more likely to be involved in an automobile accident when texting and driving (according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute), then people have to start regarding texting while driving in the same way that our society regards people who drink and drive.
We forget it wasn’t always this way with drinking and driving. In the 1970s, it was more of a wink, “everybody does it” type attitude. It wasn’t until organizations like MADD started changing societal attitudes that people’s perceptions changed toward drinking and driving. Now the same has to come from all of us with texting and driving, because people are losing their lives.
The other part has to come from Michigan lawmakers. Michigan trails way behind the rest of the country in how we punish those who text and drive. We can certainly do much more to strengthen our penalties and our enforcement. We now have examples from across the country of how other states have used a combination of stiffer fines and even jail time, as well as points on a person’s driving record and suspensions and revocations, all to put the brakes on the dangers posed by texting drivers.
Before it becomes a serious pain in our rear-ends (sorry, couldn’t help myself again).
We could even take it a step further and make an overall cell phone ban while driving.
Here’s a blog post I wrote on other legal factors that come into play when people are hurt or killed due to distracted driving.
Meanwhile, Jahnz told reporters that even though she was going 20 mph and looked down for only a split second, she has learned a lesson she will never forget. “It’s devastating knowing that I could have prevented it to begin with. I just hope my story helps to save the lives of others. Don’t text and drive,” she said.