Distracted driving now being enforced in Battle Creek

Posted at 9:57 PM, Dec 27, 2019

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

The city commission in February approved the new rules related to distracted driving, a change to 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.

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 takes 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.

The city's website has more information on the ordinance.