Texting and driving is illegal in Michigan, but local and state law enforcement agents and experts say the law is difficult to enforce.
Public Act 60 of 2010 prohibits operating a motor vehicle while reading, typing, or sending a text message on an electronic wireless device.
There have been 5 distracted driving crashes so far this year in Brighton and 11 in Hartland, according to the Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan.
Sgt. Hodecek of the Livingston County Sheriff's Department said the texting and driving statute is difficult to enforce since they need proof, such as an admission by the driver they were doing it.
"It's difficult," Hodecek said. "We have to witness and/or prove that they were texting while driving. If their using their phone and they're dialing a number, that's not texting and driving."
When an officer pulls over someone for texting and driving, which is a civil infraction, the phone can’t be seized for proof.
Hodecek said police are able to ticket the driver for other moving violations such as erractic driving, but proving a driver was actualy texting is still "very difficult."
And since technology has advanced since the law was passed, drivers could be using their phones to scroll for music, view a webpage or view a map. “The only thing (the law) seems to prohibit is text messaging,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. Mike Church.
While flawed, the law is a good starting point, Church said. “It is a very good place to start,” he said. “Distracted driving is very dangerous.”
In Michigan last year, drivers were reported to be distracted in 3,986 crashes, and using cell phones in 821 crashes.
But, the actual numbers of deaths, injuries and accidents are likely even higher, said Dominique Matich, a traffic safety specialist for the TIA, because police don't report distracted driving or cellular use in an accident unless the driver reports it as a factor.