Hollywood film director Guy Ritchie and boxer Chris Eubank both faced penalties after Mike van Erp – a carer and father of two who is TikTok famous – filmed them using their phones while driving
The Sunday Mirror hit the road with a cycling activist who has snared a string of stars – and found a horde of drivers flouting the law.
We saw scores on phones, with some emailing, messaging and even watching TikTok videos.
Footage was captured by our guide Mike van Erp, a road safety campaigner whose own father was killed by a drink-driver. Since 2006, Mike has reported 1,000 drivers including Guy Ritchie and Chris Eubank.
Offenders get a police warning letter and in some cases, prosecution, points and bans.
I joined Mike – a carer and dad of two – on the afternoon school run in Hyde Park, London.
Mike, who has 72,000 followers online, tells us: “I cross the roads on foot, with my kids and a boy with Down’s syndrome I care for, and I notice how many drivers are fiddling on phones. I’m afraid for him and for my own kids.”
Seventeen people died in crashes involving drivers distracted by phones in 2020, latest figures show.
Mike’s father Coen, 59, was killed in Harare, Zimbabwe. Dutchman Mike, who grew up there, says: “I rode out there and saw the wrecked car, a mangled heap of dirty metal, my dad’s body in a blanket.
“I am determined to help others not have to experience such a road death and I’ve realized, through many studies, mobile phone use is worse than drink driving, and that the effects of the heavy mental investment in a remote conversation are much stronger than many realize.”
Inside a minute of me joining Mike, we see a BMW driver on the phone. Mike’s £400 GoPro, attached to his head, catches her using WhatsApp and email.
“I think that’s probably gold standard evidence, I’ll submit that one,” he says.
Soon, we caught a 50-something man on his phone in his Audi. “He was watching a TikTok video,” Mike says.
Broadcaster Jeremy Vine cycles by and declares himself a “big fan” of Mike, telling us: “He’s making the world safer. I love this guy.”
We see the driver of a Range Rover taking photos, another scrolling through a playlist and three sending messages. Drivers of expensive cars such as Range Rovers and Teslas are common offenders, Mike says.
He regularly sees parents messaging while driving kids.
Celebrity offenders Mike identifies get him in the news.
Film director Ritchie, 53, was banned for six months after Mike caught him texting. Former boxer Eubank, 55, got three penalty points after Mike filmed him running a red light while texting.
Mike has been attacked, trolled and even threatened with death by other drivers.
But he says: “I had a tough upbringing, so physical danger doesn’t give me much fear.”
-Follow Mike at Youtube.com/c/cyclingmikey
Phones totally banned
We ventured out with Mike three days before new Highway Code rules banned drivers using a phone in any circumstance.
The rules apply to drivers stuck in traffic and at red lights – and offenders could face six points on their licenses and a £200 fine. If a driver has passed their test in the two years before the offence, they will lose their license.
The shake-up prioritises cyclists and pedestrians, with motorists advised to use the Dutch Reach to open the vehicle’s door from inside. This means drivers using their furthest hand from the door to open it, as this forces the body to swivel around, helping to see a cyclist, pedestrian or another vehicle coming from behind.
It is also now acceptable for cyclists to ride in the center of the road, in some situations.
And they are not obliged to use the cycle lane.
Drivers who are overtaking cyclists must leave at least 1.5 meters of space at up to 30mph, more if driving faster.