Happy Michigan Social Media Day!

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube - These are just a few of the popular social media platforms being accessed by billions of people worldwide. According to Statista, there were 2.46 billion social media users in 2017, and that number is projected to grow over the course of the next few years. Statista estimates there will be 2.62 billion users this year, and over 3 billion by 2021. It’s clear that social media is here to stay!

Today, June 30th, is Global Social Media Day! It was officially declared a holiday nine years ago by the website Mashable. In 2012, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder joined in on the celebration, and released a proclamation to recognize Social Media Day in Michigan. For each of the following years, excluding 2016, the State of Michigan has commemorated this holiday, and according to Michigan.gov, the trend continues for 2018. Per the Michigan.gov Social Media Policy, “The state of Michigan encourages the use of social media, social networking sites and emerging web tools to enhance transparency, communication, customer service, collaboration and information exchange among the State of Michigan and the public.”

While social media is used 365 days of the year, June 30th specifically recognizes and celebrates the positive impact social media has on user’s daily lives. The wide variety of platforms allow for more communication with friends and loved ones, both in Michigan and all over the world. Additionally, social media accounts give residents the opportunity to easily interact with government officials and departments. If Michigan residents have a question, they may get a timely answer if they ask their question via a platform such as Twitter. For example, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bridget McCormack is active on twitter, and regularly replies to tweets.

 

The State of Michigan is very active online, with over 450 accounts amassing over 5 million followers! In 2012, the Center for Digital Government awarded Michigan with an “A” rating, based upon, “social media implantation, ROI, innovation, creativity and collaboration,” according to StateTech. One prominent State of Michigan account, The Michigan Supreme Court (@MISupremeCourt), recently tweeted the news of #SMDayMI. Michigan’s highest court is active on several platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. In April, to spread awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, the Michigan Supreme Court sent out a tweet about Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The Michigan Law Firm added to the conversation, and retweeted the Supreme Court’s tweet. Social media allows the Michigan Supreme Court to use their influence to highlight important topics, and help people stay informed.

Social media is not only easy to use and cost effective, but it also provides the latest, up to date information to its followers and the general public. In the case of Michigan’s government departments and agencies, this means Michiganders are informed of everything going in the state, including important information such as laws that are passed, details concerning local events, reminders of the multitude of resources available to residents, as well as closures and construction projects to name a few.

It’s not all serious, however. There is plenty of fun content for followers to enjoy! For example, the Michigan Supreme Court released a tweet two days ago about “Cops and Cones,” an event held recently in Holland Township. The local Sheriff's office treated kids 12 and under with free ice cream! It’s a simple story, but one that spreads positivity and puts a smile on your face!

While social media may have its downfalls, it has undeniably been a powerful tool in the 21st century, leveraged by both the public as well as the government. As stated by Governor Snyder, “The ever-expanding exchange of information allowed by social media is an important factor in our mission to create a more people-focused government.” Social media allows everyone to join in on the conversation and connect like never before. These platforms provide information the public needs to be well informed and create positive change. To celebrate Michigan Social Media Day today, use the hashtag #SMDay and #SMDayMI on your social media platforms!


The warning, “don’t text and drive” cannot be reiterated enough. However, In the age of social media, distracted driving can involve much more than just texting. Popular platforms such as Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram can be informative and entertaining, but they can also be incredibly distracting when behind the wheel. Distracted drivers put themselves, as well as others on the road, at risk of serious injuries from distracted driving car accidents. Drivers should keep their phones out of sight so their attention can be fully maintained on the road. If you or someone you know has been involved in a distracted driving automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PC to speak to an experienced car accident attorney. For a free legal consultation, dial 844.4MI.FIRM.

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.

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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.

Are Americans The Worst Drivers In The World?

Source: GIPHY

Source: GIPHY

The United States is known for its enthusiastic love of American football, for popularizing the juicy hamburger, and for its all American privilege of freedom for all. What the US can't proudly brag about however are its citizens' bad driving habits, commonly characterized by cell phone usage and the consumption of snacks and drinks while behind the wheel. The frequency of car accidents on US roads is constantly in the news. In fact, ABC News reported that there were over 41,000 deaths on American roads in 2015 alone. As tragic as this statistic is and as commonplace a stereotype about bad American driving is, surprisingly, American drivers are only in the middle of the pack when it comes to road safety.

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Perhaps it's due to different driver’s license requirements and road organization from country to country, that many other countries come out on the better side of traffic fatality statistics than the US. This may especially be because distracted driving is not as common in these countries as it is in the United States. Germany in particular comes out on top as a safer driving country than the US despite the fact that their road speeds regularly reach 140 mph on the autobahns. Distracted driving is a danger that millions of Americans participate in daily, that may lead to severe injuries or traffic fatalities. However, because German drivers tend to obey road rules more than Americans, and are less likely to be distracted by activities that take their eyes off the road when they are traveling at such high speeds, they are generally safer drivers. 

Another reason Germany has more safe drivers may be due to the training Germans receive prior to becoming certified to drive. In Germany, there is a more difficult path to earning a driver’s license, involving a tougher written test, and required road tests in four different types of driving environments before allowing people to get a driver’s license, at age 18. On the other hand, each US state has their own age requirements for receiving a license, typically allowing teens to becoming licensed at age 16, following driver’s education classes and a basic road test. On top of stricter German license requirements, new drivers in Germany are essentially on probation for two years and in the event that they receive a traffic infraction, are booted back to driving classes.

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Even stricter than Germany, Japan carefully polices written and road tests, only allowing drivers to skip their road test if they take a $2,500 driving course. The country is so specific on their driving requirements that, coupled with excellent public transit systems, many people avoid driving altogether. Then there is Iceland, which requires driving in snow and ice to be a part of the road test. Some US States, including Michigan, could benefit from adding this type of practice to their road tests for optimal winter driving safety!

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Great Britain also appears to have safer drivers than in the US, possibly because the country has fewer freeways going through city centers than American cities do. This means that there are fewer high speed auto collisions as a whole. Heavy congestion in British cities also doesn’t allow many people behind the wheel in Great Britain to be able to get up to the speeds typically needed for fatal collisions. Andrew Howard, head of road safety for Great Britain says, “Our plummet in road deaths in recent years has been particularly in urban areas. You now can’t get up the speed to have them."

The famous British 'stiff upper lip' has also been attributed as a reason that car accidents are not as prevalent in Great Britain, as British drivers maintain their emotions and don't exhibit aggressive driving behavior, which in the US usually leads to road rage car accidents. An American expatriate living in London for the past 11 years explained, “You still have very much more courtesy and abiding by the rules in England. Someone will go zipping by at 100 [mph] , but they’ll do it in the appropriate lane."

While many countries have better safe driving records than America, there are still others that have worse car crash statistics. Unlike the other European countries mentioned in this article, Portuguese streets are almost twice as deadly as American roads. Turkey's driving conditions were described in a US State Department 'driver safety briefing' as, “pedestrians seemingly completely oblivious to oncoming traffic … vehicles backing up (in reverse) on exit ramps and on main highways … [and] oncoming drivers who play inscrutable light games, flashing and flashing whether you have your ‘brights’ [high beams] on or not.” 

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Perhaps worse than bad driving skills are the bad behaviors of Russian drivers who often bribe the police to get out of traffic tickets and driving under the influence of alcohol, and to drive unlicensed vehicles. Sergius Morenc, an ABCNEWS correspondent in Moscow, said, "there are, of course, standards and rules to be followed, but nobody follows them...If somebody breaks down, say, in the fast lane, he will take his spare wheel out or start working on the engine where he stopped." 
Finally, the United States still has safer roads than South Korea, the worst country to drive in, because highways are desperately in need of repair due to constant car accidents which occur when roads are congested.

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So, the truth comes out: Americans are not really the worst drivers in the world. But, stereotypes are hard to shake, which is maybe why many Europeans still wonder if Americans are the worst drivers. Nevertheless, the US could do with less distracted driving driving car accidents. Americans should stop participating in lengthy group chats, stop finessing their Pandora playlists, or eating a three course meal while in the driver’s seat. Speedy driving also needs to be reduced in order to have safer American roads and to reduce the number of fatal speeding car collisions. Overall, driving policies are criteria that vary no matter where one is in the world, but it is the need to travel between destinations that unites all people to rally for vehicle safety.


Driving is a universal action. Humans also universally display tendencies of speeding, distracted driving, and other actions that may lead to dangerous motor vehicle accidents. If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident and call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC. We offer free consultations for victims of motor vehicle collisions. Contact us today, at 844.4MI.FIRM.

New Apple Technology Seeks to Break Bad Driving Habits

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Do-do-do! Your iPhone goes off from the car's cup holder signaling a text message. You pick it up to read it while simultaneously switching to the far left lane on the freeway and speeding up. It’s your best friend. The text says that he needs to call you right now to talk about last night's episode of The Walking Dead. You turn down the radio and dial his number as you grab a fry out of your McDonald's bag and stuff it into your mouth. With both hands off the wheel, you accidentally serve into the lane to your right. The car behind you and the car to your right honk! You abruptly drop your phone and use both hands to get back in your lane. Now you hear your phone ringing but it's lodged in the space between your seat and the center console. You sigh and try to fish it out while driving singlehandedly.

Sound familiar?

This is what it is like to drive distracted - something many of us have done but hate to admit. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that, daily there are about 660,000 drivers who use their cell phones while driving. The constant need to multi-task and the busy work life of hundreds of thousands of Americans endanger the safety of everyone on the road.

Therefore, as technology continues to develop, companies are being challenged to develop products that are not only new and improved, but that keep individuals safe while driving. Many cars already have wireless programs that allow drivers to talk on their phone or respond verbally to text messages without having to take their eyes of the road or their hands off the wheel. However, cell phones are still easy to check and within reach of the steering wheel, making cell phone usage while driving a lethal combination.

Michigan Distracted Driving Car Crash

Apple’s latest software, iOS 11, has been created with these distracted drivers in mind. Its newest feature, called Do Not Disturb While Driving (DNDWD), is designed to prevent people from checking their phones while driving a car. Engadget tried out the new software and explained that the program uses Bluetooth or WiFi doppler effect to determine how fast a phone's user is moving. If an iPhone user is moving at high speeds, like those achieved while riding in a car, a blank screen will appear if the user tries to use the phone, in order to shield drivers from the constant flow of notifications and alerts. There is however an option to disable DNDWD when the program prompts users to say whether or not they are the drivers, thereby allowing passengers in moving cars to freely use their mobile devices.

The feature also has the capability to auto-reply to text messages, telling your phone contacts that you are driving and will view their messages when you reach your destination. There is even an option to customize certain contacts, allowing them to text back “urgent” to have their text message come through even if Do Not Disturb While Driving is on. Obviously, this feature is only intended to be used in case of emergency. While no software can prevent complete distraction, iOS 11 is Apple’s way of making iPhones safer for drivers. These efforts may dramatically decrease distracted driving.

Source: GIPHY, FX's  Louie

Source: GIPHY, FX's Louie

One demographic that can definitely benefit from DNDWD is teenagers. Teens are the largest age group reported to have engaged in distracted driving behavior when involved in fatal car crashes. Young people also make up the majority of smartphone users in the United States. With DNDWD, Apple has discovered an easy way to save the lives of many of its teenage iPhone users, even marketing the idea of safe driving as “cool.”

Teens aside, distracted driving is not something for adults to take lightly either. Distracted driving may lead to serious injuries and death from car collisions in any age group. Alarmingly, 3,477 people were killed by distracted driving accidents in 2015 alone. Parents need to lead by example for their children, who may make the excuse that “Mom does it,” to use their phone while driving. In some states, it is against the law to text, talk on the phone, or participate in other distractions while driving. Yet time and time again, adult drivers pick up their cell phone while also driving on the road. Citizens of Michigan are especially guilty of this action since cellphone usage while driving is not illegal in Michigan. By utilizing Apple’s Do Not Disturb While Driving feature, drivers of all ages, Michiganders included, have even less of an excuse to drive distracted and are encouraged to choose to be safe rather than sorry.

Aside from any emergency situations, most motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving are completely avoidable. The next time you drive, consider the serious and deadly consequences of driving while distracted. Pick your radio station before leaving the driveway, save the snacks for the dinner table, do your makeup and shave in a bathroom mirror, and keep your pet securely fastened away from the driver. Most importantly and most easily, keep your phone in the back seat, in a purse or bag, or just simply turn it off. If a phone must be kept on, use programs designed for your safety, such as DNDWD, to help break the bad habit of checking every text, game notification or Instagram post, while driving. Explaining to the ER doctor that you wrapped your car around a tree because you needed an update on the Tigers game is not fun.

Source: GIPHY, SmallBizTechnology.com

Source: GIPHY, SmallBizTechnology.com


Distracted driving is a constant threat to drivers and passengers. Cell phones are a common form of distraction, taking driver's eyes, hands, and ears off the road, possibly leading to a car crash. If you or someone you know has been been the victim of a motor vehicle collision caused by distracted driving, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our firm offers free consultations for those who need assistance in navigating their legal options while recovering from their car accident injuries.