Texting While Biking: Is it Legal?
While bike riders are subject to many of the same traffic laws as cars, one law has remained debated: Texting and Biking. In most places, texting while operating a motor vehicle is prohibited. However, texting while biking has remained legal in many places, including most of Delaware.
Until recently, Delaware law has not mentioned the use of cell phones while bicycling. Newark City Council, which is determined to control distracted bicycling, passed a new law that will impose a $25 fine on anyone caught texting or using a hand-held device. A phone mounted to handlebars, however, would not be a violation, as that device may be used for training or navigation.
Recently, Newark has been taking further steps to try to protect bicyclists and pedestrians. Home to the University of Delaware, the city is considered one of the most bike-friendly in the state. According to the News Journal, Newark Police issued 60 tickets to bicyclists for various incidents involving bicycles in 2016. In addition, BikeNewark (formally the Newark Bicycle Committee), which is a partnership of cyclists and organizations working to improve bicycling in the community, advocates to add special bike lanes, make new bike paths, and create plans to increase safety for bicyclists.
What are the risks?
Though some may compare texting and biking to texting and walking, the activities involve drastically different risks. While riding a bicycle, the rider is operating a human-powered vehicle. When it comes to basic road safety, distracted riding can be just as bad as distracted driving and involves a great amount of risk.
Yet many people claim the laws are not needed because cyclists should use common sense. They also claim there is not much evidence that usage of electronic devices while cycling has resulted in deaths or serious injuries. Some claim that cracking down on distracted driving will be more effective than enforcing more bike laws because distracted driving is what causes more death and injuries.
However, in 2015, a University of Delaware student was struck by a cyclist on campus and passed away after being unconscious for five months after the incident. It is not known if the cyclist was distracted at the time, but incidences like this have led Newark and several other cities in the U.S. to enforce more bike laws.
Chicago and Philadelphia are cities among those that have passed laws prohibiting cyclists from using handheld devices. Violators of the law in Chicago, for example, can face a $20 fine for their first offense and up to a $100 fine for their third and further offenses. In addition, eight states, including Delaware, prohibit bicyclists from riding with earplugs in both ears or while wearing a headset covering both ears.
No matter what the laws are in your area, texting while biking is always a dangerous activity. Distracted biking also takes your eyes away from the road and distracts from hazards, cars, and pedestrians. You’re in the most control if you have both of your hands on the handlebars. Anything that detracts from that is probably going to make you less safe.
If you or a loved one has been injured because of a reckless cyclist, or if you’ve been injured by a motorist’s negligence, contact a Kimmel Carter attorney. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients who have suffered personal injuries from bicycle accidents, as well as the loved ones of those who have been hurt or killed in a bike accident. We have the skill and insight necessary to obtain suitable compensation for our clients who have suffered serious injury in bicycle accidents. Please contact us online or call us at (302) 565-6100 for a free consultation.