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7 Michigan Driving Myths Debunked

7 Michigan Driving Myths Debunked

Flashback: you’re eight years old again and have just been treated to a McDonald’s Happy Meal for outstanding marks on your report card. Safely buckled in the backseat, you have a chicken nugget in one hand, and a new Happy Meal toy in the other — life is good.

Suddenly, your mother slams the brakes, and your toy sails out of your hand, landing underneath the driver’s seat. You flip on the overhead light to find it and are met with a screech, “Turn off that light! You’re going to get us pulled over!”

Fast forward to the present: While many of us probably have vivid memories of being scolded by their parents for operating overhead dome lights while driving, this is actually completely legal. There is no law stating you’re prohibited from using your dome (or interior) lights when the vehicle is in motion. However, due to the decreased visibility these lights produce when driving at night, experts at the Michigan State Police Traffic Services Section advise that you abstain from using them as much as possible. Sorry, Mom and Dad!

With our curiosity piqued after debunking this common misconception, we decided to delve into some other Michigan traffic myths that have been distorted by inaccurate word-of-mouth over the years. The truth may come as a surprise…

You Asked About Quirky Michigan Driving Laws, And We’ve Got Answers!

With so much misinformation surrounding Michigan traffic laws, it can be difficult to determine what’s fact vs. fiction. To help clear up the confusion, we’ve compiled a list of answers to your FAQs on the particulars of Michigan’s road rules.

Are U-turns illegal?

Quite a few folks both here and across America seem to believe that U-turns are illegal in Michigan. Of course, that’s far from the truth. Perhaps that’s because we have the infamous “Michigan Left,” which allows you to change directions on divided highways without making a U-turn. But, in fact, the Michigan Vehicle Code used by police officers to enforce traffic laws states that there is no state law prohibiting U-turns, though local ordinances can make them illegal at specified, marked intersections.

Can I be penalized for driving barefoot?

This is nothing more than urban legend. While restaurants can certainly put up signs saying “no shirt, no shoes, no service,” it’s perfectly legal to drive your car wearing muck boots, clogs, flip-flops, golf shoes, or even entirely barefooted anywhere in the state. However, we would recommend remaining cognizant of how proper footwear while driving can better help you grip the brakes should you need to suddenly react to something on the road.

Do I have to use my turn signal in a turn-only lane?

Rule of thumb: anytime your vehicle is shifting in direction, whether it be turn or change lanes, you must utilize your turn signal. The Michigan Vehicle Code states, “The driver of a vehicle or bicycle upon a highway, before stopping or turning from a direct lane, shall first see that the stopping or turning can be made in safety and shall give a signal as required in this section.” Driving is an interactive process that requires cooperation with others on the road to maintain a safe environment. Other drivers can’t read your mind or predict your next move and using your turn signal is the best way to communicate with them.

Am I allowed to tint my windows?

Yes, but total tinting of windows is illegal. Tinting is limited to rear side windows, the rear window — but only if the vehicle is equipped with outside mirrors on both sides, and the top four inches of the front-side windows. The exception to these regulations would be if the driver of the vehicle has a letter from their physician on their person while operating. For further details on Michigan’s car tinting laws, check out this useful breakdown provided by tinting-laws.com.

Is it against the law to ride in the bed of a pickup truck?

Michigan state law stipulates that, with some very specific exceptions, “It is unlawful for any person under the age of 18 to ride in the open bed of a pickup at a speed greater than 15 miles per hour on a public roadway.” However, we wouldn’t recommend riding in the bed of a pickup truck as a regular practice. While it may seem relatively innocuous, you may be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk, as demonstrated by a recent, tragic accident in Eaton County.

Do police officers issue traffic tickets to fulfill salary-based quotas?

Once again, this is myth. In fact, state law prohibits Michigan law enforcement officials from implementing quota systems to compel officers to issue tickets or to reward them with bonus pay for doing so. In fact, officials who attempt to institute ticket quotas can be fired. If you observe traffic laws and exercise proper caution on the roads, chances are you’ll be able to avoid incurring unnecessary fines or points on your license.

Is it legal to drive with my pet on my lap?

In Michigan and most of the country, this is completely permissible. In fact, only six states have regulations in place forbidding your furry friend from accompanying you in the vehicle while unrestrained. While Michigan lawmakers have attempted to curtail such behavior (citing the potential for distracted driving), it’s still a free-for-all should Fido or Fluffy join you on the road. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we love both our clients and their pets. Which is why we encourage everyone to exercise proper safety precautions when traveling with four-legged companions — regardless of whether the law stipulates you to do so.

If You’ve Been Injured Due to Someone Else’s Careless Driving, We’ve Got Your Back

Those are just a few of the common misperceptions Michigan drivers seem to hold about the state’s mythical traffic rules. Indeed, some rumors about driving laws have proven so pervasive that the Michigan State Police has published a document debunking driving “urban legends” such as these. It’s an interesting read, but if you’re driving right now, please wait until you safely get home to open it — distracted driving is a crime in all 50 states!

If by some unfortunate circumstance, you find yourself in an unexpected collision due to someone’s reckless or careless driving, remember the personal injury lawyers at Mike Morse Injury Law Firm have your back.  Call us 24/7 at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or you can reach us online by clicking right here.  The consultation is free and you don’t pay a dime unless we win.