Nearly two months after Havre’s ban on using cellphones while driving took effect on Oct. 1, signs were erected this week at four entrances to the city warning drivers of the ban.
The signs on U. S. Highway 2, east of 22nd Avenue and near the bottom of the hill to the west; south on 5th Avenue near the Havre Ice Dome; and just across the viaduct to the north, were put in place by the city Public Works Department on Monday afternoon after clearing up “a glitch, ” as Mayor Tim Solomon put it, with the Montana Department of Transportation.
“We got the OK from the state, but they had a change in the design, ” said Dave Peterson, Public Works director. “This is a cellphone sign that has been designed through MDT in Helena. I think they are working on a standard. ”
Havre was going to put up the signs that were placed around Billings after they enacted their similar ban, but MDT rejected those signs in favor of Helena’s, Peterson said, to create one sign that can be used by the increasing number of communities to pass these bans.
Solomon said that the other signs from Billings, that were already ordered, will still be used along county roads coming into town and in “other areas of town. ”
The signs were the last step before the Havre Police Department could end its indefinite warning period, to be replaced this Thursday with a definite warning period to last three months.
“In the beginning of December we’ll begin our warning period, ” said Gabe Matosich, acting police phief.
“After that we’ll look at it, evaluate it and see if we need a longer warning period. But I feel three months should be a long enough warning period. ”
From now until at least March 1, officers will pull over drivers they see using a handheld electronic device, give them a warning and provide them with material explaining the ban, Matosich said.