Everyone knows that it is illegal to text or use your phone while driving with an on-the-spot fine the result but it seems that the law has not been as strict for cyclists in Victoria. The Victorian State Government have now changed this, bringing the penalty for using a hand-held device while riding into line with that as for driving.
From Saturday, cyclists who use a hand-held phone while riding may be slugged an on-the-spot fine of $476. Currently police have had to charge rider with the offence then prosecute that in court for a fine to be issued, making it difficult for the police to enforce this law.
The change is based on a VicRoads report released last week that recommended on-the-spot fines be introduced. They found that in the ten years from 2004 to 2013 there were 29,181 crashes involving cyclists resulting in 84 fatalities and 4500 people seriously injured.
Police and the government hope the new deterrent will stop the “potentially deadly practice of cyclists using their phones while riding”. It is important to not that riders can be issued with a fine for using their mobile phone even while stationary unless they are parked. What constitutes a bike being parked as opposed to just stationary is unclear but I am assuming that parked would mean it is off the road.
There is an exception if you are using the phone while it is mounted to the bike and not in the rider’s hand and is being used as a GPS device. In case you were unsure, using your device at all while driving or riding is a distraction from the task at hand and is not just costly for the hip pocket if caught but is also very dangerous not just for you but others on the road.