Battle Creek police enforcing ban on phones while driving

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP/WOOD) — Police in Battle Creek are enforcing a local ban on the handheld use of a phone while driving.

An undated courtesy photo shows one of the cellphone ban signs Battle Creek posted near its borders. (City of Battle Creek)

The prohibition has been on the books since February, but police said they wouldn’t ticket drivers breaking the new law until warning signs were posted. Those signs recently went up at Battle Creek’s city limits.

Battle Creek said it’s one of only a few Michigan cities to ban drivers from holding and using a phone to talk, check email or perform other functions.

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.

Hands-free phone use with Bluetooth is legal.

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