Senators Patterson and Kahn asked and were granted unanimous consent to make statements and moved that the statements be printed in the Journal.
The motion prevailed.
Senator Patterson’s statement is as follows:
You have heard enough from me today. The remarks that I made in the previous amendment will stand for this one. If it was a poison pill before, it is still a poison pill. But since I voted for the bill on its final passage, I guess it really wasn’t a poison pill after all.
Senator Kahn’s statement is as follows:
This bill, as pointed out by the Senator from the 4th District, has been a long time developing. I congratulate him on his perseverance. But this bill ends up being the hard work of people across the United States, though our part, of course, is for Michigan; 23 states are currently debating texting bills, 19 states have them, and 6 other states have bills that deal with other issues. For example: novicius or novice drivers.
We know that nearly 80 percent of vehicles crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve driver inattention, distracted drivers. Six thousand people across our country are killed—were killed in 2008 by distracted drivers. Five hundred thousand people were injured by distracted drivers in 2008. Car and Driver magazine showed that when you brake, if you are drunk at the .08 level, they add about four feet at 70 miles per hour to your ability to stop.
If you are reading an e-mail, it adds—hold to your seat—36 feet; 70 feet if you are texting. Between 16 percent and 28 percent, depending upon what statistics you are looking for, of accidents are felt to be related to texting or inattention or both, and the number on 16 percent is of the fatalities.
Yes, there are other types of inattentions besides texting, but texting is the No. 1 cause, and thus, this bill. It is companion to Senate Bill No. 402. In my district, a young woman, Michelle Munsch, suffered a closed head injury when she was rear-ended by a distracted driver, leaving her to have post-traumatic stress disorder. She is incapacitated more than 18 months later with headaches and has not returned to work.
Recently in Utah, the cause of the deaths of two men were caused by a distracted texting driver. They passed a penalty of up to fifteen years in prison on the theory that this goes well beyond inadvertently or disapproved type of behavior, and it is reckless as they view it. AAA and State Farm Insurance support these bills. Depending upon which authority you look at, between two and six times is the number of increased likelihood you will have an accident and twenty-three times more likely to have some safety event. Ninety percent of our people, according to a Harris Poll, would like to see texting outlawed.
There is a recent editorial in the Lansing State Journal you may have seen. Let me read to you two brief paragraphs: “So, let’s get this straight: In Michigan, it is against the law not to wear a seat belt. That is a primary enforcement matter. The rationale is that people who don’t wear seat belts are at a greater risk of personal injury and thereby present a greater cost to society.
In Michigan, though, it remains legal to engage in conduct as a driver that makes you a far greater threat to other people on the road - a threat equal to that posed by drunken drivers”—and actually a threat greater than a drunken driver.
We heard earlier the Senator from the 25th District who talked about education. In this chamber, if there is one thing that we ought to understand, it is that behavior changes over time, and laws are incremental. Let’s look at our current .08 level for drunken drivers. That started at .15 and over time and ultimately as a result of a request by the federal government, it is now .08. What was that request? Either we changed to .08 or they were going to take some of our highway funding dollars away from us.
Just today the Department of Transportation federally has barred commercial drivers from texting. Recently, a federal Senator introduced legislation that says 25 percent of your state dollars, the federal state dollars going to states, will be withheld if we don’t enact texting laws. Sound familiar?
In regards to the education issue, we saw it before us also, as well, mentioned seat belts. That started as a secondary offense, and then ultimately it became a primary offense. Well, part of what we are doing is educating our public, educating our citizens as well as scolding them or fining them.
So as we come to the end of this debate, and now at this second companion bill with the sentencing guidelines, I believe we all can go and talk to our newspapers and say—and I speak in particular to those who would like it to be a primary offense—the good is what we have done, and remember, please remember, that the perfect is the enemy of the good.