Distracted driving is the number one cause of accidents according to the Michigan State Police website.
When you are riding your bike, under Michigan State laws, you are a bicyclist but you are also considered a "driver." This means bicyclists must obey the rules of the road. One rule people may not know about is that the law prohibits texting while driving. The law also prohibits any distraction that takes a driver's hands off the wheel. This applies to vehicle drivers and to bicyclists.
Bicyclists must have both hands on handlebars
Since July 1, 2010, Michigan law has stated that a biker is not allowed to text or to hold a phone while driving. The police may fine you $100 for a first-time offense and $200 for additional offenses.
Additionally, the law states bikers are not allowed to carry packages or anything else while riding their bikes. The operator of the bike is required to have "both hands upon the handlebars" while using the bike. According to the League of Michigan Bicyclists website, bikers are allowed to use their phones while biking. However, the phone must be in hands-free mode for this to be legal.
These hands-off the handlebars distractions are just one kind of distraction to consider. Being a safe driver on the road means avoiding any distraction that takes your attention away from driving. The law breaks distractions into three categories:
1. Not watching the road -- visual
2. Not keeping your hands on the wheel or handlebars -- manual
3. Not thinking about and focusing on what you are doing -- cognitive
Distracted driving is not new issue
Using cell phones to talk and text are the latest distraction. Therefore, they have gotten more attention. However, distractions have existed as long as drivers have been operating vehicles and bikes. Other distractions include:
· Consuming beverages and food
· Brushing hair and applying make-up
· Switching radio stations
· Monitoring children riding in the car
· Visiting with other passengers
· Reading directions
If you are a distracted driver, you could be breaking the law and in danger of causing an accident.