Beginning today (Thursday, July 29, 2010), you can get ticketed for "distracted driving" in Troy, Michigan, based on Troy’s newly-enacted Distracted Driving Ordinance. This is a new Ordinance is designed to improve traffic safety and reduce the number of traffic accidents. Since so many real estate professionals like to multitask while driving, it is important to be aware of this new law, especially while driving through Troy.
The Ordinance is divided into three sections, as set forth in Sections of Chapter 106, Traffic, of the Troy City Code relating to distracted driving (Section 1.20.05). Those sections cover the following topics: (1) Texting, (2) Cell Phone Use, and (3) Common Disruptive Behaviors.
The Ordinance reads: “The physical manipulation of any 2-way wireless electronic communications device used for dialing numbers; or scrolling; or typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other text; or the sending, receiving, and reading of any non-voice data in the vehicle while the motor vehicle is in motion on any highway or street or place open to the general public within the City of Troy. As used in this subsection, a wireless 2-way communication device does not include a global positioning or navigation system that is affixed to the motor vehicle.” Troy City Code, Chapter 106, Section 1.20.05(1).
This section addresses texting and similar behaviors related to texting, such as dialing phone numbers or scrolling for and reading messages, music, Internet information, etc. This particular section is modeled after the State of Michigan texting law that took effect on July 1, 2010, so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who lives and drives in Michigan.
2. CELL PHONE USE
The Ordinance reads: “The physical manipulation or handling of any wireless entertainment or electronic communication device for the purpose of speaking into, or listening to voice data, while the motor vehicle is in motion on any highway or street or place open to the public within the City of Troy.” Troy City Code, Chapter 106, Section 1.20.05(2).
This section is specific to cell phone use. In an attempt to clarify this part of the Ordinance, the City of Troy published a document named "Clarification of the City of Troy Distracted Driving Ordinance” that explains that this is NOT a ban on cell phone use. The Clarification document explains that this portion of the Ordinance is merely meant to limit the type of cell phone you can use. If you have a hand-held device, you will need to pull off the roadway (including the shoulder) and find a safe location to place your call. This section allows for the use of a hands-free device such as a ear speaker/microphone combination plugged into the phone, a blue-tooth device, a sync system, and even the use of a speaker phone, as long as the phone can be secured without physically holding it. The operative words in this section are “the physical manipulation or handling,” which means that you cannot have a cell phone in your hand to talk into or listen to.
3. COMMON DISTRACTIVE BEHAVIORS
The Ordinance reads: “Any action by the driver of a motor vehicle that diverts his or her attention resulting in the failure to use due care and caution in the safe operation of a motor vehicle while the vehicle is in motion on any highway or street or place open to the general public within the City of Troy. Such action can include but is not limited to: eating, reading, writing, performing personal hygiene/grooming, physical interaction with pets, passengers, or unsecured cargo, any of which is done in a manner that prohibits the driver from maintaining direct physical control of the motor vehicle steering mechanism with at least one hand that is free of all other objects and used entirely to form a controlled grip on the steering mechanism.” Troy City Code, Chapter 106, Section 1.20.05(3).
The purpose of this section is to focus the driver on driving, so it deals with a multitude of driving behaviors that often inhibit a driver from maintaining the level of due care and caution that is necessary for the safe operation of a motor vehicle. Fortunately, the City's "Clarification of the City of Troy Distracted Driving Ordinance" helps explain some of this section as follows:
READING: Whether you are reading notes for a meeting, reading a map, or reading a novel, reading takes your focus off of the roadway. Consider the fact that you may be driving at 45 MPH, which equates to traveling about 66 feet per second. If you are reading something that takes your focus away from the roadway for even one second, you have traveled 66 feet blindly! A two- second distraction leads you to travel about 132 feet blindly, which is almost half the length of a football field! Too many things can happen during that time that you will not see, let alone be able to react to.
WRITING: Writing notes is a dangerous practice. Consider the time and distance example previously mentioned. You may have one hand on the steering wheel, but your focus is on writing information on a piece of paper or on an electronic device. This behavior takes your focus away from your primary objective, which is safe driving.
PERFORMING PERSONAL HYGIENE: Putting on makeup or shaving, are types of behavior that often require the use of a mirror and/or the use of two hands to get the job done. This is dangerous driving behavior.
INTERACTION WITH PETS AND PASSENGERS: Drivers who keep pets, particularly large pets, on their laps while driving are often prevented from having a clear view of the roadway or ready access to vehicle steering mechanisms, side and rear-view mirrors, turn signals, etc. The Ordinance does not mean you cannot have a pet with you in the vehicle, but you must be mindful that depending on the size of the pet and its location within the vehicle, your interaction with the pet could constitute a distraction to safe driving.
Passengers who distract the driver of a moving motor vehicle by engaging in distractive behavior like pushing, shoving, grabbing, fighting, swaying the vehicle by movements done from inside the cabin, leaning out of a vehicle, etc., all constitute a distraction for which the driver may be stopped.
Changing clothes, changing a baby’s diaper, and having balloons float within the cabin of a moving vehicle causing a visual obstruction, are just a couple of the ways that physical interaction with cargo can contribute to unsafe conditions.
See Troy City Council document entitled "Clarification of the City of Troy Distracted Driving Ordinance"
EXCEPTIONS TO THE DISTRACTED DRIVING ORDINANCE
The Distracted Driving Ordinance does not apply to a person who is using an electronic communication device to do one or more of the following:
a) Report a traffic accident, medical emergency or serious road hazard.
b) Report a situation in which the person believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy.
c) Report or avert the perpetration or potential perpetration of a criminal act against the individual or another person.
d) Carry out official duties as a police officer, law enforcement official, member of a paid or volunteer fire department, or operator of an emergency vehicle.
Troy City Code, Chapter 106 (Traffic), Section 5.14(c).
SOURCE: Troy City Code, Chapter 106 (Traffic), Section 1.20.05; Troy City Code, Chapter 106 (Traffic), Section 5.14(c); Troy City Council document entitled "Clarification of the City of Troy Distracted Driving Ordinance"
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