DETROIT – Do you ever break a sweat when you notice an officer driving by? Perhaps he’s driving close behind you, or is looking into your car at a red light. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, the “what-if’s” can still be nerve-racking.
While driving, it’s important to know the rules of the road, no matter where you are.
I asked Michigan State Police Special Enforcement Commander, Lieutenant Michael Shaw about the things some of us do while driving that may not be legal in Michigan.
1. Eating while driving.
Although it’s probably not a good idea to break out a full nacho dipping platter with guac, cheese and salsa in your passenger seat, it is not illegal to eat while driving. But Lt. Shaw urges drivers to be careful when choosing to chow down behind the wheel .
“There is not a specific law that bans it,” Shaw said. “However, you could be cited for careless driving if it affects the way you operate your vehicle or you are involved in a traffic crash.”
So, in a nutshell, don’t let that six-inch sub be the cause of a six-car pileup.
2. Texting and calling while driving.
Most people know that texting and driving is a big no-no. Texting while driving has been the cause of hundreds of fatal crashes across the country, and is 100 percent illegal.
Calling, depending on where you are, may be legal to do while driving.
“Texting and driving is illegal in Michigan. Calling is not,” Shaw said. “However, some communities have passed ordnances banning the use of hand-held phone calling.”
3. Adjusting your GPS device while driving
Turn left. Turn right. Make a U-Turn. You look, and the GPS has located your car in the middle of the river for some reason – time to restart, but can you?
Yes, says Lt. Shaw, adjusting your GPS is allowed while driving in Michigan.
“However, like eating, if it causes a crash, or affects your driving, there are other violations of the Motor Vehicle Code you may violate.”
The lesson here? Make sure the GPS is showing your car in the river because of a technical glitch, and not the outcome of you adjusting the device.
4. Red light texting
According to Lt. Shaw, while it is not recommended to send texts at a red light, it is not illegal.
Remember, if an officer is behind you and the light turns green and you’re on your phone, the situation will probably end with you explaining why you weren't paying attention.
Bottom line here? Don’t drive distracted. Don’t text and drive. Don’t use your George Foreman grill to make shish kabobs while going 60 on the highway and always be aware of your surroundings while operating any kind of vehicle.