Cyclist Fined $400 for Using Phone While Riding a Bike in Australia
A cyclist was handed a hefty fine after she was caught using her phone while riding a bike on a suburban road.
Western Australian police posted a photo of the fine on July 20 along with a reminder to cyclists not use their mobile phones while on the road.
— WA Police Traffic (@WAPoliceTraffic) July 21, 2018
According to the fine, the woman was talking to her daughter on the phone.
Traffic Enforcement Group Inspector Mike Sparkman told ABC radio Perth that WA has laws that viewed cyclists in the same light as motorists when it came to mobile phone usage on the road.
The penalty for using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving is A$400 ($295) and three demerit points. The same penalty also applies to motorists who create, send, or look at a text message while driving.
“You’re a vulnerable road user, as it is, on a pushbike and this [using a phone] is just making you more vulnerable,” Sparkman told the radio station.
He said that cyclists should stop and park their bike safely before using their mobile phones to receive or make calls.
“You should be off the road so you’re safe,” he said.
He added that the laws also applied to people using mobility scooters.
Similar laws were enacted in other states around the country to deter cyclists from using their phones while on the road in order to reduce accidents.
In Queensland, bike riders would face a $391 fine ($288) for breaking the law, while in New South Wales, cyclists would face a $337 ($248) fine for using their phone. For Victorian offenders, the penalty they would face is a hefty $476 ($351).
Many studies conducted around the world have found that the use of mobile phones or even headphones/earbuds could affect cycling performance.
A report published in 2010 on cyclists who used their mobile phone while riding found that telephoning coincided with reduced speed, reduced peripheral vision, and increased risk and mental effort ratings. Text messaging had the largest negative impact on cycling performance.
An observational study conducted in 2016 also found that cycling while using headphones/earbuds or texting/talking on the phone could inhibit “a rider’s ability to sense potential dangers and other road users around them, which can lead to serious harm and/or injury.”
While comparing research from the Netherlands, Japan, and New Zealand with the United States, the study also found that cyclists often relied as heavily, or more heavily, on their senses than motorists.
“If bicycling requires as much attention to one’s senses as is needed for driving a car, then it can likely be assumed that distracting attention from those senses is equally as dangerous for bicyclists,” the 2016 study reported.
The researchers also found that each country had their own definition and laws relating to distracted cycling.
“A universal definition of distracted bicycling has not been established and, furthermore, the laws that prohibit distracted bicycling are very diverse,” the study found.
It concluded that more awareness of the prevalence of distracted cycling was needed to help prevent accidents on the road.