Distracted Driving Kills! Don't Text And Drive!

In 2018, not a day goes by that we don’t use technology. With the cars we drive, the phones we use, the watches on our wrist, technology seems to be in the air we breathe! Add on using the newest filters on Snapchat and Instagram, to sending text messages or answering phone calls, and technology can become extremely dangerous for drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that approximately 660,000 people are using their cell phones while driving, daily! And, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report from 2015 found that, “there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers.”

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That is why readers should know that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month! It’s important for drivers everywhere to be reminded about the serious dangers that distracted driving poses, because, the kicker is that all distracted driving car accidents and distracted driving accident fatalities are completely preventable! The National Safety Council (NSC) warns us that, “Each death is 100% preventable. From cell phones to dashboard infotainment systems to evolving voice command features – all pose a threat to our safety. Just one second of your attention is all takes to change a life forever.”

Cell phones are the number one suspect that comes to mind when thinking of distracted driving car accidents. In particular texting and driving is a big cause of distracted driving car accidents. In 2015, a survey of Michigan drivers found that 41% of young adults between the ages of 20-30 have admitted to texting and driving on a regular basis! 26% even admitted to texting and driving on a daily basis! Coincidentally, the State of Michigan reported that, “There were 7,516 crashes in Michigan during 2015 involving distracted driving, resulting in 28 fatalities and 3,472 injuries. Cell phones were involved in 753 crashes, with three fatalities and 377 injuries."  

No matter the distracting device however, whether it be cell phones, headphones, or smartwatches, any electronic device can impair driving. It might not seem like a big deal to see if you received a text message or a news update when your phone pings, after all, you’re just seeing what type of notification it is and don’t plan to read the text or the news blurb. However, engaging in such a seemingly harmless distraction while driving can lead to a car crash. In fact, the NHTSA says that looking down at a phone for five seconds driving at 55mph is like driving the length of a football field, blindfolded!

Unfortunately distracted driving isn’t just caused by using electronic devices. Changing the radio station because Nickelback is playing, driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand carrying a Big Mac to your mouth, or quickly reaching over to pick up Elmo after your kid dropped him, can all be distracted driving actions that can lead to serious car accidents. While these types of distracted driving habits have always existed, distracted driving has evolved in the age of social media. It’s not just about calling or texting someone while driving, but about applying the cutest camera filter for a behind-the-wheel selfie, or even checking Twitter to see what’s trending, or going on Facebook to see how many likes a post has gotten. 

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The number of distracted driving car accidents and distracted driving fatalities are scary enough to make people want to throw their phone out of a car window, but that’s not practical. Our society can no longer function without the easy communication and quick internet access cell phones provide us. Many people even see cell phones as an extension of their body, like another limb even. Therefore, it’s unreasonable to tell people to leave their phones at home when they plan to drive. Rather than facing that horrifying ultimatum, the public should be made aware of less drastic ways to prevent distracted driving. For example, some tech companies have invented apps, and even programs in their operating systems to prevent distracted driving car accidents. As previously reported by The Michigan Law Firm, PC, apps like Groove, and phone lock out programs like Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving mode, help prevent distracted driving car accidents.

Some organizations like AT&T have launched sponsorships like the It Can Wait pledge, to end distracted driving. With over 24 million pledges to stop distracted driving, It Can Wait has become one of the most popular anti-distracted driving organizations. It Can Wait has even created a virtual reality simulator that allows users to experience the dangers of texting and driving and shows how using a cell phone while driving truly impacts ones vision. It Can Wait also wants their users to take the pledge today, to stand up to distracted driving, and to become an activist who says ‘No’ to using a distracting device like a cell phone, to prevent car accidents, and to save lives. The organization, as previously reported by The Michigan Law Firm, also launched their DriveMode application that helps minimize cell phone distractions while driving. 


Distracted driving car crashes happen daily due to texting and driving, eating and driving, taking pictures and driving, and from engaging in any activity that causes drivers to not pay 100% attention to the road. If you or anyone you know has been involved in a car crash caused by a distracted driver, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our experienced accident attorneys offer free consultations to victims of car accidents.

Colder Temperatures Reignite Car Idling Debate

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Readers of The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC blog may remember two articles from this past summer that documented the saga of a Michigan man receiving a ticket for warming up his car one winter morning. Nick Taylor Trupiano, age 24 and of Roseville, Michigan, started his car in his driveway one morning in January of 2017. Taylor went back in his house to wait for it to warm up, but when he went back out to his car, was shocked to find a ticket on the windshield. The ticket read, “Vehicle parked in drive with keys in the ignition, motor running -- no one around."

Trupiano, angry and confused by the $128 fine, posted a picture of the ticket on Facebook, along with a heated description of the situation. The post was shared over 14,000 times. Facebook users were both angered at the Roseville Police Department for the bizarre ticket, and concerned that the same thing could happen to them. The Roseville Police Department responded, saying that, by leaving the car on with the keys in the ignition, Trupiano was “putting the public at risk” and creating a “public safety issue.” Essentially, Trupiano was leaving the car open to being stolen, since it was sitting in public view with the keys in the ignition. The law that Trupiano was ticketed under was put in place in order to deter carjackings. Had he started his car with a remote starter, it would have been fine. It’s the fact that the keys were in the ignition, making it fairly easy to steal the car, that was the issue. Trupiano fought the ticket, but lost, and was forced to pay the fine.

Many Michigan residents were concerned that the same thing could happen to them, since it's common for Michiganders in the middle of a harsh, typical winter to warm their cars up while they wait inside. Agreeing with Michigan citizens, Representative Holly Hughes introduced Bill 4215, a bill that would make it legal to leave a car running with the keys in the ignition so long as it was on private property. The bill passed the Michigan House of Representatives, and Governor Rick Snyder officially signed it into law on June 28, 2017. To be clear, it is still illegal to leave a car running with the keys in the ignition on public roads and freeways.

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While the bill may have alleviated many Michigan residents’ fears about being ticketed for warming up their car in the winter, what was lost in the debate is whether or not cars even need to be warmed up in the winter. The short answer is, no. The idea that drivers need to warm up their vehicles before driving in the winter does stem from some truth, but doesn’t carry much weight now. According to the Washington Post, it is true that a vehicle's fuel economy does decrease significantly in colder temperatures, and it does take longer for the engine to warm up to its optimal temperature in the winter. More so, vehicles manufactured with carburetors do need to be warmed up in order to work well and prevent the car from stalling. However, automobile manufacturers stopped using carburetors by the mid 1990s, and began using electronic fuel injections. Electronic fuel injections can monitor and adjust to the temperature, so warming up isn’t necessary. As a result, modern vehicles don’t need to be warmed up for more than 30 seconds before driving - the engine will warm up faster while being driven than it would will idling in the driveway.

In short, if you’re warming up your vehicle to help your engine, that really isn’t necessary. But if you idle your car in the morning simply so your car is warm and you don’t have to spend the first 10 minutes of your commute in an icebox, that’s a different story! Many drivers warm up their car for comfort, but it’s important to consider the economic and environmental implications. Idling your car not only wastes fuel (and thereby wastes money) but it also gives off greenhouse gas emissions. A 2009 study found that idling cars account for 1.6% of all greenhouse gas emissions in America. While some idling, such as idling in traffic, is unavoidable, idling in the driveway is not. That same study found that based on the price of fuel in 2009, Americans could save $5.9 billion a year on fuel costs if drivers would cut out unnecessary idling.

Whether you decide to idle your car in the morning or not is up to you. But if you do decide to idle your car, make sure you do so in your driveway, where it is now legal. Do so on a public street, and you are fair game for a ticket.


While accidents can happen any time of year, driving in snowy and icy conditions can be especially challenging, and can lead to winter weather car accidents. If you have been involved in an automobile accident due to winter road conditions, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation. 

Police Pull Over Vehicle Transporting Giant Christmas Tree

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Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, our attention turns to Christmas. And kicking off the Christmas season usually means heading out and picking out the perfect Christmas tree. Chopping down the tree provides for some great photo ops, and decorating the tree often calls for Christmas music and hot chocolate. But the in between time - getting the tree home - is possibly the most crucial part of the process, but often doesn’t get as much attention. Transporting your Christmas tree safely is crucial not only to keep the tree in good shape, but also for keeping everyone on the road safe.

One driver learned the importance of Christmas tree travel safety the hard way. According to local news outlets, police in Massachusetts pulled over a vehicle that was transporting a mammoth sized Christmas tree. The tree was spilling over the roof of the vehicle, with the vast majority of the vehicle not even visible. In a now viral Facebook post that's been shared thousands of times, the local police department stated that “Sudbury PD would like to remind you to transport your Holiday trees responsibility.” The incident occurred on Route 20, about 25 miles west of Boston. It’s unclear if the driver actually received a citation, or just a warning.

The danger in transporting a large tree on top of a car should be obvious. A 7-feet tall Douglas Fir can drape over the windows and windshields, drastically limiting the driver’s visibility (if not obscuring it completely). The heavy weight could very likely be too much for the vehicle, slowing it down and disrupting the flow of the traffic. Should the tree come loose from the car, it could hit another vehicle on the road, or block the road, causing cars to try and swerve out of the way, likely causing an automobile accident. So, to safely transport your Christmas tree home, check out this recent blog post from The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC.

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Picking out the family Christmas tree is a quintessential part of the holiday season. And while safely securing the tree to your vehicle may not be the highest priority or the most fun thing to be doing while celebrating the holiday, it is crucial. A poorly secured tree can not only damage the tree and/or your vehicle, but can endanger your life, the lives of everyone traveling in your vehicle, and other drivers on the road. This Christmas, you want to call your lawyer to convey well wishes, not to embarrassingly tell them you caused a car crash because your Christmas tree fell off your car and landed on top of another!


Car crashes are always devastating, but can be particularly damaging to the spirit during the holiday season. Call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation if you've been involved in a car accident. Our experienced attorneys will handle your legal woes while you focus on spending this joyous time with your loved ones.

Help! We Can't Stop Texting And Driving

Distracted driving has become a major issue in our world today, especially since more people have smartphones than ever before. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that each day in the United States, 660,000 drivers use an electronic device while driving. Also, each day, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 are injured in automobile crashes reported to have involved a distracted driver, based on statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It should be mentioned that these are just the reported distracted driving car accident cases, and there many be thousands of other cell phone car accidents that occurred without official documentation, because of how difficult it is for authorities to pinpoint a distracted driver. It therefore goes without saying that distracted driving is very dangerous, and with the technological era upon us, it is also on the rise.

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Distracted Driving Statistics

The following statistics, provided by Click On Detroit, help put the dangers of distracted driving into context:

  1. Taking your eyes off the road for more than two seconds doubles your risk of a crash.
  2. When driving 55 miles per hour, five seconds with eyes off the road is equivalent to driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
  3. Distraction is a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes

The texting and driving problem has gotten so big that highways across the country now regularly warn drivers "Don't text and drive," and 46 states and the District of Columbia have laws banning texting and driving. If these laws don't deter people from engaging in distracted driving, we hope that drivers will keep these shocking statistics in mind, to help prevent a distracted driving car accident and to minimize the risk of experiencing a life-changing car crash injury on the road.

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However, although we know that talking or texting while driving is an issue, the problem isn't just calling or sending a text message to catch up with your best friend. Drivers with smart phones are now even using Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Maps, Spotify, and YouTube, all while operating a vehicle on busy roads. In a survey sponsored by the National Safety Council that focused on 2,400 drivers of all ages, 74% said they would use Facebook while driving, and 37% said they would use Twitter while behind the wheel, with YouTube (35%) and Instagram (33%) close behind. 

 CNN talked to Jennifer Smith, a mother of two and founder of the advocacy group StopDistractions.org. She lost her own mother in a crash nearly 8 years ago when a 20-year-old who was talking on the phone drove through a stoplight. Since then, Smith has devoted her life to helping other families who have become victims of distracted driving crashes by providing support, lobbying for legislation, and planning public awareness events.  Smith believes that people need to really focus on what's important. "As I'm talking to new families, more and more of them are telling me, 'It's Snapchat,'" said Smith, whose daughters were 1 and 13 when their grandmother was killed in Oklahoma City. "It's Snapchat today, but then what is it tomorrow?...Social networking while driving is not necessary and should not be done by anyone, in any way, who's driving. Period. And somehow we've got to make the whole country understand that."

Also acknowledging the widespread problem of using social media while driving, Deborah Hersman, President and CEO of the National Safety Council commented, "We know that it's an under-reported issue and it's a lot like impaired driving in that way where people know it's not acceptable to do it, and yet a lot of people still do it anyway." 

The Science Behind Distracted Driving

David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology, told CNN that the constant need to check our phones, even when operating a vehicle, is caused by the “addictive nature of smartphones and how our brain instinctively responds to those pings, which signal an incoming text or social media update.” 

Smartphones are taking over the world. They are affecting our brains and behavior on a daily basis. When we hear the alert of a new message, social media notification, or new email, our brains get a dose of dopamine, which is a chemical that leads to an increase in arousal. “The dopamine reward centers are the same centers that have to do with pleasure from eating, pleasure from sex and procreation, pleasure from drugs and alcohol,” Greenfield said. “This reward circuitry is as old as time and if we didn’t have it, we probably wouldn’t exist as a species.”

Where the trouble arises however, is not the higher level of dopamine, but the shutdown of access to the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for most of our judgement and reasoning. “The parts of the brain that say, ‘OK, how important is this text? Is this text worth dying for? Is this text worth killing somebody else for?’” Greenfield said. “The answer, of course, logically, would be ‘no,’ but if you have less access to that part of your brain when you’re in this state, which seems to be the case, then you’re not really using your judgement.” 

Distracted Driving Prevention Apps

Scott Tibbitts, founder of a technology called Groove, believes he can help bring an end to distracted driving. His distracted driving prevention app sends a signal to the driver’s phone service provider, altering it to hold off on all texts and social media notifications while they are driving, and also prevents the driver from posting anything while the car is moving. Tibbitts compares the addiction to texting while driving to having an open bag of potato chips in the car. “I know I shouldn’t be eating potato chips, but just take a deep breath of that barbecue sauce. Well that’s what the ‘bing’ is. The ‘bing’ is “Oh, my gosh this might be the text message from my daughter that says, 'Dad, I need help,'” Tibbitts explained.

Michigan Distracted Driving Car Crash Lawyer

Groove is only one of many distracted driving prevention apps and phone features being developed to minimize distracted driving, like Apple's Do Not Disturb While Driving feature and At&T's DriveMode app. It may seem ironic to use technology to stop the usage of electronics while driving, but it actually might make more sense. If people are relying so much on their mobile devices, what better way to spread the word about the risks of distracted driving and to help break bad habits than with the cell phones themselves? 

Every time we look at social media while behind the wheel or text while driving, we get a false sense of security and believe that we will be safe in future attempts. Despina Stavrinos, director of the University of Alabama’s distracted driving research lab, says it’s similar to the reinforcement theory. “So you’re driving every day, sending text messages, and nothing happens. So it’s reinforcing to you, ‘Hey, I can do this. I am a pretty good multitasker,’” said Stavrinos. In reality, distracted driving is doing nothing more than putting drivers and passengers at risk for severe injury or death. People are smart enough to develop addictive apps and modern cell phone technology, so they should be more than capable of making the right decision to forget the distractions and focus on the road while driving. 


In many ways, distracted driving can be just as dangerous (if not more so) to drivers and others on the road, than drunk driving. If you truly believe that text messages, Facebook alerts or emails are that important, pull over to the side of the road and complete your business before getting back on the road. If you or someone you know has been involved in a distracted driving car crash, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC today. Our firm are highly experienced in dealing with all types of motor vehicle accidents and can help you. Call us at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.

Roseville Man Ticketed For Warming Up His Car

Many Michigan residents were unaware until recently that they could be ticketed for leaving their cars running, with the keys in the ignition, on private property. That is exactly what happened to Nick Taylor Trupiano, 24, of Roseville, Michigan back in January. Mr. Taylor started up his car to get it warm and left his keys in the ignition before going back inside his house for a few minutes. He told XILX 10 News that when he came back to his vehicle however, he noticed a ticket on the windshield. Angry about receiving the ticket, Taylor posted a picture of the ticket along with his enraged feelings about the officer who issued it, on Facebook, where it was shared more than 14,000 times.

The Reason For The Ticket

The ticket said, “Vehicle parked in drive with keys in the ignition, motor running -- no one around." Roseville Police Chief James Berlin explained that Taylor was “putting the public at risk” and that it was "purely a public safety issue" because by leaving the car unattended with the key in the ignition, Taylor gave carjackers a chance to steal the vehicle. Berlin also clarified that using a remote starter is fine, but leaving the keys engaged in the car is where the issue arises. 

Taylor said he would have respected the ticker had the officer knocked on his door and informed him that he was in violation. "I had no clue that this was a law, an ordinance. I’ve done this every day for seven years. Every person warms up their car. We live in Michigan." On those grounds, Taylor therefore decided to fight the ticket.

The Judge's Decision

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Judge Marco Santia of the 29th District Court ruled that the $128 ticket will stand. Santia stated that the ticket was given under reasonable circumstances under the  law despite Taylor's argument that the ticket should not apply to his private property. City Attorney Tim Tomlinson essentially argued that Taylor left his car open and viable for criminals to steal his car which is why the ordinance exists in the first place - to deter "nefarious people." Tomlinson even reported to the court that not long after Taylor received his ticket that two incidents of car theft occurred due to similar circumstances-one including children and the other, a high speed chase.

House Bill 4215

The viral response to Taylor's Facebook post caused so much public outcry that Republican Rep. Holly Hughes submitted a bill in February to excuse residents from receiving a ticket if their car was left running on private property. The bill known as HB 4215 was approved in March in a 77 to 30 vote in the House. Hughes argued that it's up to the owner of the car if they want to take the risk of having it stolen by leaving it outside and running. 

The Safety of Idling A Car

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Though warming up cars in winter is an age old practice for citizens of Michigan, it is in fact discouraged by car experts. Popular Mechanics says that letting your car idle, "decreases [the life of your engine] by stripping oil away from the engine's cylinders and pistons...Driving your car is the fastest way to warm the engine up to 40 degrees...The best thing to do is start the car, take a minute to knock the ice off your windows, and get going...It takes 5 to 15 minutes for your engine to warm up, so take it nice and easy for the first part of your drive...Warming up your car before driving is a leftover practice from a time when carbureted engines dominated the roads."

So, in addition to car theft and opening up the public to potential violence, warming up a car isn't even good for the cars. This is an important fact to remember as a car that is not in good condition is more likely to become involved in a car accident. Therefore, drivers should remember to always keep their car maintenance up to date, and in the event that they do rely on warming up their cars in winter, should have their vehicle inspected by a professional mechanic regularly, to ensure that it is in good shape. 


Idling your car to warm it up is a popular practice in the cold, harsh winters of Michigan. However, warming up your car and leaving it unattended can open drivers up to a host of problems including car theft and potentially, a broken engine. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car crash due to winter weather or a worn out engine, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free consultation.