Rules of the Road For Michigan Drivers

When you drive, you have to know and follow all of the traffic laws. While you may know the laws in your home state, you need to be aware that other states may have different rules that you must follow. If you are planning to visit or move to Michigan, you will want to make sure you are familiar with the following rules of road that may be different from those in other states.

Permits and licenses

  • Michigan requires new residents to register and title all vehicles and obtain a new license once residency is established in the state.

  • Teens under the age of 18 are required to complete the Graduated Driver Licensing process, which includes a Temporary Instruction Permit, a Level 1 License and a Level 2 License.

  • Those who have never held a license but are over the age of 18 are required to hold a Temporary Instruction Permit for at least 30 days.

  • Moped riders who are a minimum of 15 and do not have a driver’s license must apply for a moped license in order to ride on the streets.

Seat belts and safety seats

  • All drivers and front seat passengers are required to wear a seat belt.

  • All passengers under 16 years of age must be in a seat belt or properly restrained in a safety seat.

  • Children less than eight years old or those of any age that are less than four feet, nine inches tall are required to be in a safety seat or booster that is appropriate for their height and weight.

  • Children under four years of age are required to sit in the back seat in a proper restraint system unless all seats are filled with children that are younger. If this occurs, the child under four in the front seat must still be in an appropriate restraint system.

  • Michigan law permits traffic stops by law enforcement based solely on seeing the driver or other occupants in the vehicle that are not buckled properly.

Right of way

  • Drivers must yield the right of way to pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles if failing to do so is contrary to the signs posted or will cause an accident.

  • Funeral processions always have the right of way.

  • Drivers are required to yield when approaching or attempting to pass a utility service, road maintenance or waste collection vehicle that is stopped and has its lights flashing.

General rules

  • Truck beds - Children under 18 are not permitted to ride in an open pickup truck bed traveling over 15 mph.

  • Unattended children - It is illegal to leave a child under the age of six in a vehicle if the amount of time or circumstances presents an unreasonable potential for injury or harm. Children under 6 can be left with children 13 and older if the supervising child is not incapacitated in any way.

  • Following - Driver are required to follow a three- to four-second rule when following another vehicle. This amount of space must be increased based on weather, road and traffic conditions.

  • Signaling - Drivers are required to use the vehicle’s turn signals or hand signals when changing lanes or turning and brake lights or the appropriate hand signal when slowing or stopping. These signals must be given a minimum of 100 feet before making the move.

  • Left turn on red - A left turn at a red light is only permitted if turning onto a one-way street with traffic driving in the same direction of the turn. Drivers must yield to pedestrians, approaching traffic and cross traffic before making the turn.

  • Passing on the right - Passing on the right is permitted on roads with two or more lanes traveling in the same direction. Drivers can’t leave the roadway or use bike lanes in order to pass on the right.

  • Parking - When parking on a street in an approved area, the vehicle must be within 12 inches of the curb and facing the same direction as the flow of traffic.

  • Texting - It is illegal for drivers to text while operating a vehicle in Michigan.

  • Headlights - Headlights are required any time visibility becomes less than 500 feet.

  • Parking lights - It is illegal to drive on a roadway using only the parking lights.

  • Accidents - While all drivers must stop in the event of an accident, only crashes resulting in property damage over $1,000, injuries or death must be reported to the police.

These rules of the road for Michigan drivers may differ from those in others states. Following them and those that do not vary from state to state will make sure you drive legally on the roadways. The State of Michigan What Every Driver Must Know booklet is also available if you would like more information.


The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

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