There are more than 38 million motorists in Great Britain, claims the RAC in its recent 'Report on Motoring'. And, according to the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), about 1 million motorcycle licence holders. Which doesn't mean there are a million active motorcycle riders. 

Motorcycle riding habits have changed significantly down the years. In some areas, there are extensive numbers who use their bikes for everyday transport. But that euphemistic catch-all term, 'leisure', covers the main use for motorcycles. Ride outs, race meetings, touring, rebuild projects, shows, rallies, track days etc. Most of us are car drivers too. Perhaps out of necessity rather than choice. 

'31% use a handheld mobile phone while driving'

This annual RAC report canvasses the views of a cross-section of the car driving population (1700) on a range of issues. But there's a section of the report the media, understandably, chose to highlight. This being the 'confession' by 31% of respondents that they'd used a handheld mobile phone while driving. And 20% thought it was safe to check and use their phones while in stationary traffic (this is also an offence). 

As soon as this news had been broadcast, predictable calls came for better enforcement.  An announcement from the government of increased fine levels from £150 to £200, and penalty points from an automatic three to six. Provoking much debate and discussion on whether this was enough of a deterrent. We're in a period of time when the mobile phone is ubiquitous and, to some, considered as necessary as oxygen. 

The other issue linked to this is how people will be caught and convicted. As the report also stated that dedicated traffic police offers in England and Wales have declined from 5338 (2010) to 3901 (2015).

Increased traffic, increased risks

This is a serious issue for those of us who choose two wheels for our transport. With more cars on our roads than ever, the risks have increased. Mobile phone use is frequently spotted from the saddle of a bike. And then there're all the other in-car distractions that divert attention. 

Almost all the report's respondents - 97% - highlighted the poor condition of the local road networks. 14% said that this was their top concern. This takes away some of the pleasure us motorcyclists derive from riding our bikes. It raises important safety issues too. 

Do you remember the (proud) government announcement in the March budget? It stated it would distribute £50 million to local authorities as a 'Pothole Action Fund'. Sounds like a lot of money. But the Department For Transport says it needs an estimated £8.6 billion to remedy the backlog of repairs to local roads. Perhaps £50 million isn't so much after all. 

The RAC report ends with some 'Calls to Action'. Predictable ones covering road safety, motoring costs, congestion and parking, road maintenance etc. Motorcycling doesn't figure at all. Despite some efforts from the MCIA and Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), we remain a whisper in the wilderness. Our best hope for any improvement? Successful lobbying by big motoring organisations when they experience conditions which are unsafe.   

Do you think the new government fines and penalty points will be enough to deter mobile phone usage when driving? Let us know what you think by emailing


20/09/16 - Not without it being properly policed.

20/09/16 - Unfortunately I doubt it!

20/09/16 - What is needed is a change in attitudes. People think that driving is just something you do. Not a skill that needs to be worked at, improved. and requires full concentration to be done safely.

20/09/16 - Zero tolerance ... instant ban !!

20/09/16 - Not without restoration of proper Police Traffice patrols.

20/09/16 - using your phone while driving should be a ban and 6 points

          21/09/16 - So you want to ban 1/3 of all drivers LOL. Well done.

          22/09/16 - And so they should if they drive in a manner dangerous to everybody else. One way of solving congestion too.

20/09/16 - if I can cope with not using my phone whilst riding a motorcycle even if it was on a holder on the bars other vehicle drivers should be able to aswell.

20/09/16 - i still dont get why dam phones are so important to ppl after all the first thing owning a mobile phone does is allow the government to track ur movements the next thing it does is to ruin ur life by allowing ppl to contact u, know matter where u are, including her in doors, your all crazy

20/09/16 - Nowhere near the punishment that it deserves.

20/09/16 - GET OFF THE FEKIN PHONE .!!!!!

20/09/16 - Good move by government but largely unenforcable due to not enough cops

20/09/16 - Not made a difference yet still see loads of drivers using them need someone to catch them.

20/09/16 - People do it because; 1. they don't see it as an issue or a degradation of their ability and awareness behind the wheel. 2. they know how little likelihood of being spotted / stopped / caught there is. For most people, they are simply addicted to a glowing screen and you don't need to be on the road to see that, the pavement or the shopping centre are just as good an example.

20/09/16 - You have to catch them first - the police can;t even catch drunk drivers as it is. Yes it's an extremely dangerous thing to do, but tinkering with penalties won't make much difference; hammering it home to the public is what is needed..

20/09/16 - If I catch a work vehicle with a company name and number I ring them as soon as o can and ask what their policy is on drivers using phones. Most are very keen for the details - reg nr where and when.

20/09/16 - Last night on Car Wars a female Police Sergeant was filmed on several occasions driving a Transit Van on blues and twos at speed through traffic using just one hand on the wheel and holding a mobile phone in the same hand. Her other hand was holding the gear lever despite the fact that she wasn't changing gear. Twice, she phoned home while driving the van using a hand held mobile to let her 'man' know that she was OK. What message does that give out?

          23/09/16 - Apparently she was on a private road giving police access only. Not a public road, so doesn't apply. That's come from the force concerned. The law is for a public highway, not private!!!

20/09/16 - The other day I watched a woman driving past my house towards the main road, both hands on the phone and head down looking at the screen. She was paying no attention to the road ahead

20/09/16 - I tooted a bloke on his texting on his phone today,he nearly jumped out of his skin. At the next set of lights he shouts at me, "You twat, you could have caused an accident" go figure that

20/09/16 - No a biker a total ban not fine.... minimum....cause an accident Jail....period

20/09/16 - Should be an immediate ban, confiscate car, retake driving test just for using it.

20/09/16 - Doubt it, only after there has been an accident, too late then though

20/09/16 - Not enough plods about to enforce it

20/09/16 - Probably not!

20/09/16 - I doubt it!

20/09/16 - The change is only "window dressing" there are not enough Police to enforce it , so there will be no change.

20/09/16 - Did the increase work last time, no. Simply because you're not likely to be caught

20/09/16 - No. Ban for life.

20/09/16 - Total driving ban and a really hefty fine and don't forget to crush the car!

20/09/16 - Car manufacturers encourage the use of phones with their ridiculous huge screens, in car connectivity etc. A car is a place for driving, if you need entertainment, stick the radio on. That should be it. I see people using their phones and weaving around into the next lane or the kerb, every day. This morning ion the way to work I saw a skip lorry swerve out towards me, then massively over correct when he realised. He was on the phone. That could have been a disaster.

          22/09/16 - Agree, just look at the current TV adverts for cars, most now lead on the features of "infotainment" system, absolutely nothing about actually driving the car

21/09/16 - Automatic ban and fine. Same as drink driving

21/09/16 - Let's start by killing everyone who shouts ZERO TOLERANCE, BAN

21/09/16 - The penalty should be the same a drinking and driving . There needs to be a culture change and I'm afraid it will take at least a generation . I can remember when drinking and driving was the normal thing to do . Better policing and zero tolerance .

22/09/16 - no

22/09/16 - I was speaking about this to my wife the other day and I recon I have a solution to the problem.
People can only be prosecuted (a) if caught by the police, (b) if reported by two independent witnesses or (c) caught on camera.
My suggestion is for the police force to buy some small cars with cameras fitted and employ people to drive them around.
Whenever they see someone on a phone or driving dangerously they can take a time stamp then the police can review the footage at the indicated times later to see if a prosecution is warranted. It would be totally self funding if the fines were set to deter people from offending and it would have an added bonus of employing people to drive the cars and watch for offenders. (Obviously the passenger would be the lookout while the driver just drives)

22/09/16 - Nope, a day after it happened a guy did it all the way along Brighton Seafront Got his numberplate but don't wanna be that guy

22/09/16 - I wish they'd stop making cars with devices that encourage people... apparently the new Mazda 2 will read Facebook posts to you...why? Ffs get the f**king bus!!!

          23/09/16 - I thought the same thing when I heard the advert!

22/09/16 - The trick is to spot the tell-tale signs of people using their phones. Once you get the hang of spotting them then it's easy to keep well out of their way.

22/09/16 - How about a £1000 fine and a 12 month ban instead.

22/09/16 - Simple remedy: Confiscate the phone and the vehicle.

22/09/16 - I'm a Biker it's just plain stupid when you are out riding and you see driver upon driver on their fe***n mobile phones horrid horrid

22/09/16 - Turn it off, put it somewhere safe, and out of reach. End of.

22/09/16 - If you use your phone while driving you shouldn't have a license.

22/09/16 - While I find it annoying.. But should we be asking ourselves......Do we do the same thing when driving a multi wheeler. I would say yes ptw users will do just that.. I found myself wanting to answer.. I just put it on airplane mode.. Stops the temptation..

22/09/16 - Should be an instant 12 month ban on the spot. Would stop over night the most cases

22/09/16 - No. That's why I WONT STOP SMASHING THEM If I see you on it. & your window open. It's Going on the Floor Very HARD before I ride off !!

22/09/16 - No one gets done for it so it will continue, increasing the penalty is moot

22/09/16 - Why can't car manufacturers build something in to the car that kills the signal job done then you've got to stop and get out then

22/09/16 - Instant 3 month ban!

23/09/16 - I'd rather smoking be banned tbh! Far more dangerous when driving

23/09/16 - No they are not because your chances of getting caught are svery slim

23/09/16 - Not here

23/09/16 - They need to increase the fine to £500 that will make people think twice


23/09/16 - Waiting by the lights this morning on my way to work at Wemoto and the first three vehicles to cross the other way, one van and two cars, the drivers where on mobiles. Fools.

23/09/16 - Pointless if you still use them hands free as it's be shown you still have road awareness of someone under the influence of alcohol. Time manufactures fitted jammer or stopped integration with car till parked.

23/09/16 - No ! Cus a pr**k is a pr**k

23/09/16 - If you use a phone while you're driving (unless you have a hands free kit or phone connectivity directly to the car) then you're an idiot...who doesn't deserve to drive.
That said, nearly all of us have been guilty of it at some point.

23/09/16 - Won't make any difference, police don't catch many now, yet I see loads using phones on my short journeys around my area! Also see quite a few police cars around, but they never seem to stop anyone!

23/09/16 - Need a 12 month an for using the thing in a car. There aren't many calls worth a life. It's been proven that using a phone while driving affects concentration more than drink driving. You get banned for that, same rules should apply

23/09/16 - every vehicle should have a phone signal blocking devise fitted If you have to make a call just get OUT of the Vehicle.

23/09/16 - Pisses me off...Govts need to punish this wreckless practice with the same seriousness and consequence as they do for speeding..

23/09/16 - The best solution is a £1000 fine instant ban and the vehicle no matter what scrapped, be it private or company. Simple!

23/09/16 - A phone lock would be good idea jams keyboard when enter car and only work through hands fee

05/10/16 - No, I think the penalty is too light,especially when I note that a recent study stated that it's more dangerous than a drunk driver. First offence, with no accident occurring, points 6 and fine £200 to £500 Subsequent offences doubling both with each occasion. However, if an accident has occurred, double on the first offence, unless injury has been sustained, in which case the courts should hold sway over what happens to a guilt phone user i.e. much higher fine and points and potentially, prison. In addition, if the call can be traced to one to/from the drivers workplace, the company must hand over recorded evidence that they challenged the drive, refused and closed the call.  Failure to do so, should incur severe penalties on the company concerned.  Ones that grow with each occurrence. Hopefully, that will help dissuade delivery companies, from harassing drivers into stupid mistakes.

My most weird experience of a phone using driver, is...

Location:  A343 through Enham Alamain. The road is wide and where this happenned, straight. It's not a 'tight for two busses', village type road.

Driving south, I noted a black Range Rover in a small side road on the left, appearing to be waiting to join A343, but not yet pulling out. Odd, I thought, because I was a long way away and there was nothing stopping the driver from pulling out. However, as I closed on the junction, the vehicle pulled out, in a manoeuvrer that should have put it onto the northbound carriageway and out of my path. I slowed instinctively and continued to do so, as the car stopped at an angle, fully blocking the road. At which point I noted that the driver had a phone held up to her ear and appeared to be talking to someone. I came to an easy halt, close to her car.  No reaction from the driver.

A car in the northbound carriageway came to a halt and he and I exchanged shoulder shrugs and 'no idea' looks. The 4x4 driver continued her conversation, looking ahead and ignoring other road users.

I'd just got my door slightly open, intending to walk over to her, as I thought the car had died, but at that moment she engaged reverse and moved back off the road and manoeuvred into a parking position, where she stopped, still talking on the phone. Traffic started moving again, with somewhat vacant looks on faces.

At no time did she put the phone down, or acknowledge any other vehicles/drivers. A driver with not a care in the world, it seems.

05/10/16 - Absolutely pointless unless it's policed. I recently did a 80 mile round trip in Cumbria and seen one Police car (not a traffic car either) on my journey. Most people who commit this offence couldn't give a feck about the law, other people or the consequences and why would they when they know there's next to no chance of being caught. When caught their phone should be pulverised with a lump hammer and given back to them knowing they can't claim off their insurance.

05/10/16 - No, people will still use phones. I think every car should be fitted with a compulsive signal blocker paid for by the car owner and be part of the M.O.T.

05/10/16 - Doesn’t deter anyone, I doubt many people are even aware that the fine and points have gone up and there is no one to police it.

It would be good if bikers that regulary pass people using mobiles could report to the Police with footage.

Posted by John Newman
for Wemoto News on 20 September 2016 in General News

Edited By: Daisy Cordell


Sign up to receive updates and new posts straight to your in-box.



Supplying quality after market motorcycle parts direct to the trade