Battle Creek ban on phones while driving starts Friday

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — If you plan to drive through Battle Creek, make sure you put down the phone.

A new city rule approved Feb. 5 takes effect Friday. It bans handheld cellphone use while driving, unless you are an emergency responder who is on duty or reporting a crash, medical emergency or serious road hazard. Otherwise, talking, scrolling and typing on a phone are all prohibited while behind the wheel.

The city says police will not ticket drivers breaking the new law until warning signs are posted along Battle Creek borders later this month.

Battle Creek is currently designing the signs, which must be approved by the Michigan Department of Transportation before they are posted.

Michigan law already banned texting while driving. However, Battle Creek officials say the state law is also harder to enforce because it’s difficult to prove someone was texting while driving, as opposed to scrolling on their phone. The city ordinance is broader, targeting smartphone activities that distract drivers.

Battle Creek Police Chief Jim Blocker says during the first year of the ordinance, he expects to educate drivers more than ticket them. The city says he also doesn’t expect to issue “an abundance” of tickets tied to the new law.

Like the state law, drivers who violate Battle Creek’s distracted driving ordinance must pay $100 the first time and $200 for any subsequent violations.

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