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Michigan Laws and Basic Road Rules Refresher


Published June 14, 2019


In Michigan in 2018, 312,798 traffic crashes were reported. 974 people lost their lives, according to government data.

Knowing the rules of the road will help to ensure that the statistics for this year do not include you, your family, or anyone you know.

No matter how old you are, you can never know too much of the knowledge that keeps you, your passengers, and pedestrians safe and alive when you drive in Michigan. Let’s go over some of the basic road rules that you must know to be a safe driver in our state.
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Seatbelts

Let’s start with seatbelts. Michigan has what is known as a ‘primary’ seat belt law, which means that the police can pull you over and issue a citation if you or anyone in the front seat of your vehicle is not wearing a seatbelt. Passengers eight years of age or older are required to wear seatbelts no matter where in your car they are seated. Children younger than eight years old (or shorter than eight-feet-nine-inches tall) must be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat.

Crosswalks

What about crosswalks? Well, Michigan does not have a crosswalk law at the state level, but most municipalities in Michigan do. You should be extra careful when coming out of a driveway, at stop signs and traffic lights, at roundabouts, and intersections, as well as crosswalks.

Pedestrians may legally cross in the middle of a block, even if there is a crosswalk nearby, and always should be giving the right of way. If you see someone with a white cane, you must always yield to them no matter what traffic control may otherwise apply. If someone is crossing at an intersection, you must always yield to him or her, even if the light is green.

Remember — you are driving several thousand pounds of steel; a pedestrian is flesh and blood. Drive accordingly. Never use your horn or rev the engine to dissuade a pedestrian, because the sound can interfere with hearing aids or audible safety devices.

Speed Limits

Must you always drive the speed limit in Michigan? No — you must sometimes drive slower if driving conditions warrant. Michigan’s Basic Speed Law requires you to maintain a ‘careful and prudent’ speed in all driving conditions.

On Michigan freeways, there is a 70 mph maximum and a 55 mph minimum speed for passenger cars — unless otherwise posted. Trucks and school buses are restricted to 65 mph (55 mph if the freeway has a standard speed limit less than 70 mph).

Unless otherwise posted, on all streets that are not designated freeways, and on all highways that are not freeways, the maximum speed is 55 mph. In residential areas, the speed limit is 25 mph unless otherwise posted.

In work zones, a speed limit of 45 may be posted at the site’s discretion. In mobile home parks, the Michigan speed limit is 15.

Distracted Driving

What about texting and distracted driving? Acts as simple as tuning a radio while driving can kill you or others. At highway speeds looking away from the road for half a second means that you have driven over 50 feet blind. Last year, over 4,000 Americans died because a driver was not looking at the road.

Michigan law states that drivers who operate their vehicles ‘in a careless or negligent manner likely to endanger any person or property’ or ‘in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property’ may be ticketed.

Texting or reading text messages while driving is illegal in Michigan and carry fines in the hundreds of dollars.

If you are driving alone, map out routes in advance. If you are driving with passengers, put someone else in charge of radio tuning, GPS entry, climate control and anything else that requires looking at something other than the road in front of you.

Points and Ticketing

Lastly, what if you are ticketed? If you are ticketed and plead or are found guilty, you may be assessed points on your license. Points remain on your driver’s license for two years.

If you gather 12 points or six one-point assessments within two years, then you will be required to appear in court for a driving assessment by a judge, who may suspend your driving privileges.

Reckless driving or failure to stop gives a driver six points, traveling more than 16 miles over the speed limit costs four points, disobeying a road sign or driving 6-15 miles over the limit costs three points, and most other moving violations cost two points.

Fines, fees, and court costs that can easily reach over a thousand dollars. So, not only is it safe to follow these rules, it’s economical as well.
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