Dutch transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen plans to introduce legislation banning people from sending mobile phone messages while cycling next year.
‘Using Whatsapp and phoning [while cycling] is giving increasing cause for concern,’ the minister said. ‘Everyone knows you can’t keep one eye on your phone and one of the road. Nevertheless, there is a real temptation to send messages or make phone calls, both on bikes and in the car.’
Although research from the Dutch road safety council shows that sending text messages while cycling has only caused accidents in a limited number of cases, there is a lot of support for a ban, the ministry press statement said.
‘A ban must be clear and enforceable,’ the minister said. ‘The ministry is in talks with the public prosecution department, police and the Council of State. A concrete proposal is slated for 2018.’
In the meantime, the ministry is working on a new campaign focusing on the responsible use of smart phones in traffic.
One in three 12 to 21-year-olds cycle and use their phones at the same time and phones are said to have played a role in 20% of bike accidents involving the under-25s, the transport ministry said last year.