TIA, Victims, and Officials Say It’s Time to Act
Contact: Jim Santilli, CEO, (248) 334-4971
TROY, Michigan, January 8, 2020 – Jim Santilli, CEO of the Transportation Improvement Association (TIA), is encouraging the Michigan Legislature to make distracted driving a top priority and take action on Senate Bill 288. If passed, SB288 would make Michigan a hands-free state. There are currently more than 20 hands-free states in the nation.
“Since we announced the first hands-free bill on September 6, 2016, preliminary numbers indicate 228 people were killed and 24,190 were injured in 63,709 crashes that were reported to involve a distraction,” said Santilli. “Many of these deaths and injuries likely would have been prevented if the Michigan Legislature enacted a hands-free law.”
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, drivers who use a hand-held device are 4 times more likely to get into a crash serious enough to cause injury. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash.
“We are seeing far too many drivers looking at, and typing on, portable electronic devices while driving,” said Macomb County Sheriff Anthony M. Wickersham. “To make our roads safer, we need the Michigan Legislature to enact a true hands-free bill such as SB288. Lives can be saved, and injuries will be prevented, if drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while driving.”
If SB288 becomes a law, a driver may use a portable electronic device in hands-free mode as long as the driver can activate or deactivate a function on the device with a single swipe or tap of their finger. The portable electronic device must also be safely mounted on the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road. A driver may also use a hands-free system, such as OnStar, Sync, or U-Connect.
According to Santilli, California was the first state in the nation to enact a ban on hand-held cell phone use in July of 2008.
“Based on traffic crash records two years before and two years after the hand-held ban went into effect, overall traffic deaths declined 22% and hand-held cell phone driver deaths went down 47%,” said Santilli. “After Georgia implemented a hands-free law, distracted driving dropped 21%.”
The movement for a hands-free law in Michigan began after Santilli attended the funeral for Ally Zimmerman, a 16-year-old Romeo High School student who was hit by a distracted driver while traveling as an innocent passenger on December 28, 2010. TIA immediately joined forces with Ally’s family and friends to create the Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign. The Hands-Free Michigan Campaign was announced on March 30, 2016.
“My daughter, Ally, lost her life in 2011 due to a distracted driver,” said Laurel Zimmerman. “Since then, too many families have lost a loved one due to distracted driving. Ally was passionate about helping others and would want SB288 passed.”
Jim Freybler, who lost his son to texting and driving, supports the ban on hand-held cell phone use.
“As drivers, we all have the ability to save lives and prevent injuries through the choices we make,” said Freybler. “A brief distraction can take away a loved one forever. Please remember my son, Jacob, and don’t drive distracted.”
TIA, through the support and a partnership with BMG Media, recently updated the official website of the Hands-Free Michigan Campaign. For more information, including crash data, please visit: www.handsfreemichigan.com
Caption: Laurel Zimmerman (left), the mother of Ally Zimmerman, testifies before the House Transportation Committee on May 16, 2017. Her daughter, Ally, was hit by a distracted driver in 2010. She died from her injuries.
TIA Demonstration: Sending and Receiving a Text Message Using In-Vehicle Hands-Free Technology
TIA Demonstration: Sending and Receiving a Text Message Using Hands-Free Technology on a Phone