Texting and driving is illegal in Michigan, but local and state law enforcement agents and experts say the law is difficult to enforce.
Public Act 60 of 2010 prohibits operating a motor vehicle while reading, typing, or sending a text message on an electronic wireless device.
There have been 43 texting and driving citations so far this year in Macomb, 199 in Oakland and 185 Wayne, according to Michigan State Police.
Michigan State Police Sgt. Mike Church said the texting and driving statute is difficult to enforce, especially with the advancements in smart phones since the law was put in effect in 2010.
When an officer pulls over someone for texting and driving, which is a civil infraction, the phone can’t be seized for proof. “It makes it difficult,” Church said.
And since technology has advanced since the law was passed, drivers could be using their phones to scroll for music, view a webpage or view a map. “The only thing (the law) seems to prohibit is text messaging,” said Church.
While flawed, the law is a good starting point, Church said. “It is a very good place to start,” he said. “Distracted driving is very dangerous.”
So far, Fenton police haven’t written any tickets on the texting and driving law. It’s a difficult one to enforce, said Chief of Police Rick Aro, because it’s difficult for police to be sure texting and driving is what a driver is doing when his or her head is down.
To prove someone was the driver has to voluntarily give police their cell phone so an officer can look at it, Aro said.
The law might come into play if there’s a serious accident, and police suspect texting and driving caused it, he said. In that instance, Fenton police could get a search warrant for the cell phone to check it, Aro said.
But the Fenton Police Department hasn’t had an accident caused by texting and driving, or any tickets written for it, he said.
In Michigan last year, drivers were reported to be distracted in 3,986 crashes, and using cell phones in 821 crashes.