A leading cycling group is urging cyclists who see drivers illegally using mobile phones to report them to the police. Driving while using a mobile phone has been an offence for a number of years now and it has long rankled with both cyclists and other drivers that so many motorist continue to flout the law. The problem is a nation wide one but is particularly acute in cities where large numbers of cyclists and motorist share the roads at peak times. Now the London Cycling Campaign is urging cyclists to report drivers they see using mobiles when behind the wheel.
London Cycling Campaign (LCC) cycling development officer Charlie Lloyd said: “When cycling, you must look out for drivers using mobile phones. Give them a wide berth and, if they're driving erratically, report them to the police.”
A report by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL): Driver distraction from in-vehicle sources: a review of TRL research concludes that using a mobile phone in a car is more dangerous than drink driving. The TRL report says that drivers using mobiles have slower reaction times than those over the legal alcohol limit, and studies used driving simulators to measure driver reaction times. According to the TRL, drivers using mobiles tend to look at the road for longer but this is at the expense of scanning mirrors, crucial when it comes to being aware of cyclists.
Speaking to road.cc Bristol councillor, Jon Rogers, a keen cyclist and the executive member for transport and sustainability – which puts him in charge of Bristol's Cycling City project said: "Mobile phones are an issue for cyclists and you do notice when drivers are on them. Mobile phones can impair drivers and make them more unaware. But I think we are moving towards a critical mass where as the number of cyclists increases the more drivers will expect cyclists and know they have to be more aware of them.”
TRL has carried out a series of surveys on behalf of the Department for Transport into the use of mobile phones by drivers and, while the rate of mobile use by drivers of cars is not as high now due to a result of the increased penalties, they are still being used. Drivers aged under 30 were almost twice as likely to be using a mobile phone as those aged 30 and over.
Charlie added, “If you witness, or are involved in a crash, ask the police if the driver has had their phone confiscated and ask that the records be checked to see when the phone was last used.”
But according to the study it’s not just mobile phones that distract drivers, the study also raises concerns about other forms of in-vehicle technologies, claiming more needs to be done to understand how drivers interact with potential distractions.
The review looked at four TRL studies conducted since 2002 and revealed more needs to be done to define a level of distraction considered ‘safe’.
TRL research estimated that driver distraction contributes to 50% of all crashes, while a study earlier this year by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute revealed that texting while driving increases the risk of collision by 23 times.