Distracted drivers are making riding so dangerous for motorcyclists they have forced one US motorcycle police unit off the road.
The St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota has now axed its motorcycle and horse-mounted units, citing an increase in crashes with distracted drivers.
It’s such as shame as both units not only had practical policing advantages but also community outreach benefits as shown in this photo.
Citizens in danger
It’s not just bike cops that face danger from distracted drivers, but all riders.
The Australian Automobile Association National Road Safety Strategy increased the motorcycle crash danger status from amber to red in 2015 citing an increase in crashes caused by distracted drivers.
It has stayed in red status ever since.
And it is not going to go away. It seems drivers are becoming more and more distracted by the various electronic gizmos in their cars.
But the biggest distraction is the mobile phone – not just for making calls. Police say they have seen drivers updating their social media and even taking selfies while they drive.
In an ironic twist, St Paul’s is axing its bike cop unit while Australian motorcycle police are often deployed to patrol for motorists using mobile phone illegally.
They say the seat height of the bikes give police a good view into the driver “cockpit”.
It’s a call that is backed by many motorcyclists as well as other motorists.
The RACQ’s annual “What drives us crazy” survey continues to find that driver distractions such as mobile phones are among the top five complaints among motorists.
Meanwhile, mobile phone fines vary across the nation:
- NSW $337 fine and 5 demerit points;
- Queensland $391 and 3 points;
- Victoria $476 and 4 points;
- Western Australia $400 and 3 points;
- South Australia $308, plus $60 Victims of Crime levy, and 3 points;
- Tasmania $300 and 3 points;
- Northern Territory $250 and 3 points;
- ACT $386 and 3 points.
Fines around the world
Fines vary around the world from no fine in many Asian countries to thousands of dollars and licence suspensions in Canada.
New Zealand has an $80 fine which matches their low fines for speeding. Consequently 3.5% of Kiwi drivers use their phone while driving compared with about 1.5% in Australia.
Almost half (24) of American states have no hand-held phone ban. Some states only issue fines if the driver is in a school zone or committing some other traffic offence such as speeding. Arizona and Montana even allow drivers to text!
The toughest measures in the USA are in California. The state has a $US150 fine (about $A205) for the first offence and more than $US250 (about $A345) for a second violation and one point.
Canada has a distracted driving offence which attracts a $1000 fine and three demerit points. A second conviction could mean a fine of up to $2000 and a seven-day licence suspension. A third offence could mean a fine of up to $3000 and a 30-day suspension.
Fines in Europe vary from less than €50 (about $80) and one point in eastern Europe to €420 (about $A675) in the Netherlands and up to six points in the UK.