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Distracted driving being enforced in Battle Creek

Within the City of Battle Creek, it now is against the law to use a hand-held cellphone while driving for almost any reason. and police will use it as an educational tool, and can enforce it, according to a press release from the city.

The city commission in February 2019 approved the new rules related to distracted driving, a change to the city’s uniform traffic code of the city’s ordinances. The ordinance prohibits the hand-held use of a cellphone while driving a vehicle. This includes scrolling and typing on a phone, as well as speaking.

These rules are in effect within the boundaries of the City of Battle Creek. Crews have posted signs at entry points of the city, alerting drivers to the local law. Police did not issue tickets related to the ordinance before staff installed the signs, which read “Local Law: No hand-held electronics use while driving.”

A state law prohibits texting while driving, but the new city ordinance is more enforceable, Police Chief Jim Blocker said. 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.

Chief Blocker said he 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 earlier in 2019 “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 Federal Communications Commission; 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.

Battle Creek is the third Michigan city to create a distracted driving ordinance, joining Detroit and Troy.

Michigan State Police data from 2017 attributed 8 percent of automobile crashes in Battle Creek to distracted driving.

The fine for violating the ordinance is $100 for first offense and $200 for second or subsequent offenses. Additional costs or fees could be assessed, as well.

Additional information can be found on the city’s website, battlecreekmi.gov.

 

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