BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Battle Creek's new distracted driving ordinance goes into effect Friday, Feb. 15, making it illegal for drivers to hold their phones while driving.
There may be a grace period as people adjust to the new ordinance, but that's not to say officers won't be on the lookout.
Battle Creek Police Officer Ryan Thayer said there are tell tale signs a person is driving distracted.
"You're just gonna see the driver looking down toward their lap. Typically the phone is gonna be low, and you'll see a constant looking down," Thayer said. "It doesn't take very much time at all for an accident to happen, or somebody to walk out into the street, so taking your eyes away from the road is never a good idea."
The ordinance began as an idea by the Bicycle Safety Committee to prevent car-bike collisions, but the ordinance aims to make all aspects of driving on Battle Creek roads safer.
While holding a phone will be illegal, even while stopped, people can still make phone calls, but it must be hands free. This is different from the state law that makes texting and driving illegal.
"It sometimes can be hard to you know, prove, somebody may have their phone in their hand, it doesn't mean that they're texting. Where as this, the city ordinance, is going to make that quite a bit easier to enforce," Thayer said.
The ordinance won't be enforced until the city puts up signs, reminding people about it, near entrances to the city. Once the signs are up, if police see distracted drivers, they'll pull them over, but officers will give people time to adjust.
"You know the first year is probably gonna be more of a learning opportunity, as opposed to writing somebody a ticket," Thayer said.
After the grace period, infractions will result in a $100 fine for the first offense, and $200 for any time after that.