Motorcyclists will welcome the news that the Government will close a legal loophole which has allowed drivers to escape prosecution for hand-held mobile phone use while behind the wheel.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, has announced that he will urgently take forward a review to tighten the existing law preventing hand-held mobile use while driving.
Currently, the law prevents drivers from using a hand-held mobile phone to call or text. However, people caught filming or taking photos while driving have escaped punishment as lawyers have successfully argued this does not fit into the ‘interactive communication’ currently outlawed by the legislation.
The revised legislation will mean any driver caught making a call, texting, taking photos, browsing the internet or scrolling through a playlist while behind the wheel will be prosecuted for using a hand-held mobile phone while driving.
Drivers who use a hand-held mobile phone are hindering their ability to spot hazards and react in time - putting people’s lives at risk. The impact of this behaviour is proven; if a driver looks at their phone for just 2 seconds when travelling at 30 miles per hour, whether to reply to a message or send a quick snap, they will travel 100 feet blind, drastically increasing the chance of a collision.
Distraction puts all road users at extra risk, and as motorcyclists we are particularly vulnerable because of our small size. Even without distractions, motorists often fail to see approaching riders or fail to give us enough space.
For our own safety, we should assume that motorists do not always see us, and act accordingly. To stay safe around distracted drivers we can:
- Ride defensively, being aware of our surroundings and what drivers near us are doing
- Use daytime running lights and consider widening our profile with extra lighting
- Make ourselves visible with a reflective vest or bright clothing
- Make eye contact with a driver before crossing their vehicle’s path
- Stay alert to traffic from all directions
- Be on the lookout for motorists who stray out of their lane - a sign of distracted driving
- Not become distracted ourselves
The proposed law changes are expected to be in effect by Spring 2020.