Chuck further explains that he is "very worried — not just as a bicycler when on the road but also as a driver. I am no saint and do talk on my smartphone (kind of an oxymoron when used in the same sentence as driving). What scares me is the many number of distracted drivers of all ages, but especially our youth and the texters.
"Since I ride my mountain bike on the road a good portion of the time, I see so many people not knowing their surroundings," he continued. "Just take a walk or a bike ride in town and pay attention to all the people at intersections with phone to ear or eyes toward their lap as they text and wait to turn when traffic clears. It is almost automatic for people to get in their cars, start the engine and pick up the phone to become a one-handed driver as they negotiate turns usually without blinkers and full attention.
"I know there is typically bad blood between non-biking drivers and road bikers, and even a little between mountain bikers and road bikers. But one thing all bikers have in common is the fear of some distracted driver coming up from behind and hitting us."
Sgt. Steve Austin of the Ottawa County Sheriff's Department breaks it down for us.
"There is no state law specifically for cellphone use in Michigan while driving, other than the commercial vehicle law that passed recently, and a teenager with a level 1 or 2 (driver's license) is banned from mobile phone use with (the recent) Kelsey's Law," Austin said. "However, if someone is driving carelessly, crossing a center line, running off shoulder, then we have a violation that can be cited."
Austin said if the violation can be directly linked to use of a cellphone while driving, it would probably be a careless driving ticket and punishable by a $180 fine and three points on your driving record.
"We have cited 113 drivers since January for careless driving," he added.
Texting while driving is a different story, Austin said. It is definitely illegal to text and drive. The fine is $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense.
"Since January of this year, we have cited 27 drivers for this violation," the Ottawa County officer said.
Austin notes that driving is a privilege that requires skill, practice, judgment and responsibility.
"We encourage drivers that your attention needs to be focused on the road, not on the phone or your conversation," he said.
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