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Within the City of Battle Creek, it soon will be against the law to use a hand-held cell phone while driving for almost any reason.
The City Commission on Feb. 5 approved the new rules related to distracted driving, a change to the city’s Uniform Traffic Code, Chapter 410 of the city’s ordinances.
The ordinance prohibits the hand-held use of a cell phone while driving a vehicle. This includes scrolling and typing on said phone, as well as speaking.
These rules will be in effect within the boundaries of the City of Battle Creek. Signs will be posted at entry points of the city, alerting drivers to the local law.
While the law takes effect this Friday, Feb. 15, staff expect to post signs later this month. The design is in progress, and the city also must wait for MDOT approval to post signs on the state highways into the city. Police will not issue tickets related to this ordinance until the signs are posted.
A state law prohibits texting while driving, but the new city ordinance is more enforceable. It can be difficult to prove a driver was texting while driving, as opposed to scrolling through Facebook, or browsing the internet. The local law addresses a broader variety of activities that take drivers’ attention away from the road.
Police Chief Jim Blocker does not expect to issue an abundance of tickets related to the ordinance.
“Although enforceable, we anticipate more educational opportunities than enforcement actions in this first year,” Blocker said. “There is a shared responsibility on our part to get the message out – and this works well with the state law – that distracted driving is not safe driving.”
Exceptions to the law are radio operators licensed by the FCC; police officers, fire department personnel, law enforcement officers and others driving emergency vehicles while performing their official jobs; and anyone reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency or serious road hazard.
Frequently asked questions are available at the city’s website, www.battlecreekmi.gov/faq, including an image of the signs to be posted.