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Police Chief Jim Blocker has said this issue is no more a priority than other laws enforced by the Battle Creek Police Department. It is a tool officers can use when it is necessary, and when they have the time. Police also plan to use this as an educational opportunity, to get the message out into the community that distracted driving is not safe driving.
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The ordinance prohibits the handheld-use of a phone, or any "two-way wireless electronic communication device," while driving a vehicle (with exceptions, explained below). This includes scrolling and typing on said phone or device, as well as speaking.
This is a change in the rules in the Uniform Traffic Code, Chapter 410 in the city's code of ordinances. See the city's ordinances here.
Within the boundaries of the City of Battle Creek. Signs are posted at entry points to the city, and look like this:
Friday, Feb. 15, 2019. However, police did not write tickets for violation of the law before crews posted signs at city entry points, completed in December.
Yes -- MCL 257.602b. This state law specifically prohibits texting while driving. While some state laws prohibit municipalities from passing related laws, this one does not. The City of Battle Creek is not in conflict with the state law.
Yes -- the City of Troy and the City of Detroit. Troy's ordinance includes an expansive definition of "distracted driving," which could include eating while driving. Detroit's ordinance prohibits the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.
The idea cam several years ago from the city's Bicycle Advisory Committee, of which former Mayor and Commissioner Dave Walters is chairman (at the time the law was approved). The committee, including current Commissioner Kaytee Faris, brought research and ideas to city staff to draft the ordinance.
Cyclists are in the unique position to more frequently see into vehicles, and notice when drivers are using cell phones. This is a safety concern for cyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers.
The new ordinance is viewed as more enforceable than the state law, as it is difficult to prove that someone was texting while driving, as opposed to scrolling through Facebook or browsing the internet. The ordinance addresses a broader variety of activities that take drivers' attention away from the road.
The City Commission introduced the ordinance on Jan. 22, 2019, and voted it into law on Feb. 5, 2019.
Yes -- those driving in the city can talk hands-free with a Bluetooth wireless vehicle connection, or using a Bluetooth wireless headset connected to a cell phone.
Yes -- those who are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission may use radio service equipment in their vehicles.
Yes -- an exception to the rule applies to reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious road hazard.
Exceptions also are in place for reporting a situation when a person believes their personal safety is in danger, and reporting the potential or actual perception of a crime.
Yes -- an exception is in place for police officers, law enforcement officials, members of a fire department, and emergency vehicle operators, while carrying out their official duties.
According to information collected by the Michigan State Police, Battle Creek is in the top 50 Michigan communities with the most distracted driving crashes. Battle Creek had 126 vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving in 2017. That is 8 percent of all crashes in Battle Creek, according to police.
Statewide, there were 7,516 crashes involving distracted driving in 2015, resulting in 28 deaths and 3,472 injuries. Of these, a cell phone was involved in 753 crashes, with three deaths and 251 injuries.
This was up from 5,353 such crashes in 2014, resulting in 14 deaths and 2,401 injuries.
Violating this local ordinance is a civil infraction; the fine for a first offense is $100, while the fine for second and subsequent offenses is $200. Any violation also could be subject to additional, court-assessed, costs.