Bike riders spot distracted drivers

One in four bike riders believe driver distraction caused a crash they were involved in, and three in four a near miss, a new survey by Bicycle Network has found.

The survey of more than 2,300 bike riders showed that people who ride bikes are regularly impacted by distracted driving.

98 per cent of riders say they have seen mobile phones being used by drivers, while more than 60 per cent have also seen people eating and drinking and tending to personal hygiene while driving.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said that bike riders can see distracted driving more than other road users and that distraction doesn’t have to be lengthy to be dangerous.

“Bike riders are in a unique position because we can see into every vehicle we ride past. We know what is going on inside, and it’s not always driving,” said Mr Richards.

“Whether it’s using a mobile phone, using the mirror to do your hair or eating a Big Mac, your eyes leave the road. If you do this for just two seconds when travelling at 60km/h it means you travel blind for more than 30 metres.”

Survey responses form submission

The results of the survey have been included in Bicycle Network's submission to the National Transport Commission (NTC) who is investigating ways to regulate the safe use of technology devices as part of Australia’s road rules.

Based on feedback from its members and riders, Bicycle Network’s submission recommends increasing penalties for distracted driving, educating drivers and implementing technology to assist police enforcement, override driver errors and block devices in vehicles.

“We need to do more to address distracted driving, not just for bike riders and vulnerable road users, but for everyone,” added Mr Richards.

“Government agency BITRE has predicted that if we don’t change our ways, mobile phone use will increase road deaths by 14% and serious injuries by 25% by 2030. To reach target zero we must reduce distracted driving.”

Respondents to the survey are regular bike riders, with 40.1 per cent saying that they ride a bike every day and a further 48.4 per cent saying they ride a few times a week.

Distracted driving results and recommendations

Distracted driving survey findings
  • 35.7% of people said they see distracted driving every time they ride. A further 40.4% said they see it most times they ride.
  • 97.9% of riders have seen people use a mobile phone while driving. 65.2% have observed eating and drinking and 63% have seen drivers tend to personal hygiene.
  • Distracted driving is mostly seen on residential suburban streets (73.5% of riders), CBD and inner-city roads (70.5% of riders) and major suburban roads (70.3% of riders).
  • 70% of respondents live in the inner-city or metropolitan suburbs
  • 36% of riders said they have voiced their concerns when they have seen distracted driving, and 25.7% said they have responded angrily to a distracted driver. 5.1% of riders have contacted police about distracted driving.
  • 79% of riders have been involved in a ‘near-miss’ that they believe was caused by distracted driving
  • 22.2% of riders have been involved in a crash that they believe was caused by distracted driving
  • 76% of riders said mobile phone use was the cause of a crash or near miss. 7.5% blamed use of a GPS unit and 6.9% blamed tending to personal hygiene.
  • 9% of respondents said they think distracted driving is a serious road safety issue in Australia
  • 88.5% of respondents said Australia needs tougher distracted driving rules and penalties. The most strongly supported potential measures to address distracted driving are:
    • Stronger enforcement of rules by police (78.8%)
    • Advertising campaigns and road user education (69.2%)
    • Tougher financial and demerit point penalties (65%)
    • Better definitions of laws so that any kind of distracted driving is an offence (50%)
    • Installation of device blocking technology in the vehicles of offenders, like interlocks for drink drivers (47.9%)
  • Distracted driving is changing the way the people ride bikes – 56% reported that they now choose to ride on roads with less traffic, at times when there is less traffic or entirely off-road.
Recommendations from NTC submission

  1. The rapid roll out of hi-tech traffic camera technologies and legal reforms that make it easier for police to enforce distracted driving laws.
  2. A national advertising campaign to highlight the kinds of distracted driving and their consequences.
  3. Higher penalties for distracted driving with consistency across states and territories.
  4. Fast-track in-vehicle mobile phone blocking technologies and its mandated implementation across all new vehicles sold in Australia.
  5. In-built opt-out ‘Do not disturb while driving’ apps automatically activated in all smartphones sold in Australia.
  6. Implement autonomous vehicle technology in all new cars sold in Australia.
  7. Establish a national crash database to track the causes of crashes and the impact of distracted driving.
  8. Research into the motivations of distracted driving with a focus on smartphone use.


Click here to see Bicycle Network's distracted driving campaign page

Download NTC submission