Tag Archives: road safety

Car technology could save riders’ lives

Crashes involving motorcycles and cars are often referred to as SMIDSY incidents or “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you.”

Many riders complain that drivers not only don’t see them, but don’t even bother to look.

For years, motorcycle safety advocates have been asking authorities to better educate drivers to look out for riders.

However, it’s like banging your head against a brick wall. Drivers just don’t care. They don’t see motorcyclists as a threat.

Recently, technology seems to be compensating for poor driver behaviour and lack of attention to other road users.

We have seen such technologies as blind spot alerts that specifically monitor for small vehicles such as motorcycles.

And recently a nine-month pilot study was held in Ipswich, Queensland, where vehicles were fitted wth technologies that could identify vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycle riders.

The Ipswich Connected Vehicle Pilot (ICVP) involved 350 cars being fitted with cooperative intelligent transport systems (C-ITS) technology.

This included a roof-mounted antenna, a communications box under the driver’s seat and a warning display on the dashboard.

It monitored vehicle position, speed and data such as traffic lights, speed limits, road works, and other road hazards.

The pilot was a joint operation involving the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the Motor Accident Insurance Commission of Queensland, Telstra, Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety Queensland, iMOVE Australia, Ipswich City Council, and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development.

The QUT will release its final pilot safety evaluation report on the trial in early 2022.

Could this be the beginning of the end of SMIDSY crashes for riders? Or will such technology just be another excuse for drivers not to bother looking for riders?

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Strange line markings could save riders’ lives

Strange line markings on corners could prevent riders from head-on crashes, according to a recent study by Austrian safety group KFV Sicher Leben (Safe Life).

The line markings or “motorcycle perceptual countermeasures” consist of varying sized ellipsis and rectangular shapes next to the centre line on corners.

They were designed to influence the line riders take through bends.

In 2016, ellipses were applied at three of eight selected sites in Austria and bar-shaped markings were applied at the others.

Accident analysis from 2013 to 2019 show a 42% fall in motorcycle crashes at all eight sites, but the biggest reduction was on corners with ellipses.

Line markings
Rectangular markings didn’t perform as well as ellipses

The study also found a “significant shift in the driving lines of motorcyclists at the crown of the bend from the inside to the outside of the lane”.

This is often referred to as the head-on zone as many riders ride too close to this line so that when they lean the bike over, their head is actually on the opposite side of the road.

Prior to the introduction of the markings, around 36% of all motorcyclists rode to the outside of the lane at the crown of the bend, the KFV study found. 

A view of the all-new Moto Morini X-Cape adventure motorbike on rugged terrain, with a gorgeous tropical view.

After their application, this figure rose to 68%.

“This significant increase was observed for both the bar and the ellipse markings, whereby the effect was slightly more pronounced for the former,” the study found.

This is not the first time line markings or perceptual countermeasures (PCMs)  have been used on roads to influence rider behaviour.

In 1999, Melbourne’s Monash University developed road markings that make the road look narrower to reduce’ speed on the approach to deceptive corners.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Should big vehicles take care of riders?

The UK Highway Code is being revised to incorporate a hierarchy of vehicles where bigger vehicles have to look out for smaller, more vulnerable, road users such as motorcyclists.

Sounds like fair deal, right?

After all, big vehicles such as trucks have huge blind spots and drivers need to take care to ensure that small vehicles such as motorcycles, scooters and bicycles are not in the way before taking a turn or other manoeuvre. 

Click here to read about how you can avoid a truck’s many blind spots.

And most riders would like to see road safety messages include an education component to make drivers more aware of them.

However, we are not so sure that legislating a hierarchy of vehicles is such a good idea, especially in Australia where our roads are shared by everything from bicycles t 50+m road trains.

For a start, how would police patrol for offences?

Impossible.

And if a law can’t be policed, it shouldn’t exist.

The only use for such a rule would be in the wake of a crash where the onus of driving innocence would then fall on the larger of the vehicles involved.

However, this onus of proof runs contrary to our justice system where people are innocent until proven guilty.

It would also apply to motorcyclists if they were involved in a crash with a cyclist.Identification bicycle cyclist video

It’s quite ridiculous and an example of safety Nazis getting in the way of a commonsense approach.

The Australian bicycle lobby has been arguing for something similar for some years.

However, road safety signalling should be about sharing the road, taking responsibility for your own actions and penalising those who operate outside the road rules.

The UK Highway Code does require drivers and riders of all vehicles to be responsible for looking out for more vulnerable road users, but the concern is the implied guilt simply because a vehicle is simply bigger.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Prizes for reporting rider road hazards

Riders who use the Snap Send Solve app that helps Australian authorities identify and fix road hazards that pose a danger to vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists could win a $50 incentive prize.

Up to ten $50 gift cards are drawn each month from users who refer friends and family to the app.

You can enter after submitting or rating a report or by clicking ‘Refer Friends’ in the ‘More’ section of the app.vAnd you can enter as many times as you like.

Snap Send Solve will contact winners when monthly prizes are drawn.

The app requires riders to take a photo of the road hazard and send it to the app which passes it on the authorities.

Of course, riders could also report directly to authorities, but it is often unclear which jurisdiction is responsible for the problem as roads divided among all the three levels of governments in Australia.

The app is basically a one-stop shop for reporting hazards.

Bad Roads Rally roadworks potholes Victoria

Riders are three times more likely to be involved in crashes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces than any other vehicle type according to a British Automobile Association survey.

It found that while potholes cause damage to cars, they are a far greater injury threat to riders.

They say riders swerving to avoid potholes can also cause crashes.

The 2018 Monash University’s Accident Research Centre report into motorcycle crashes has suggested governments improve the quality of rural roads and evaluate roads for their specific motorcycle safety.

A side view of the new Aprilia GPR250R

There is no doubt that potholes are dangerous to riders.

A pothole can cause a big jolt in the front suspension, kick the handlebars about and possibly damage a rim. But at least the suspension is set up to absorb most of the impact.

However, bumps or a seam of humps in the middle of a lane caused by heavy vehicles pushing the tar up may be even more dangerous.

They can lift the front wheel off the ground, kick the bike left or right into the bush or oncoming traffic, or cause a tank slapper where the handlebars oscillate wildly.

Bumps are also harder to see and seem to be less likely to be fixed than potholes in yet another example of how the authorities ignore and neglect motorcycles.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Call to test blow-up motorcycle vests

Detailed tests are required on the efficacy of blow-up vests and jackets as used by MotoGP riders, says Australian safety expert Dr Marcus Wigan.

The Emeritus Professor of Transport and Information Systems at Edinburgh Napier University says funding for such tests should be provided to the internationally awarded MotoCAP* motorcycle gear safety ratings service.

“Dr Liz de Rome’s MotoCAP initiative, eventually supported and taken up by the national governments, enables riders to discover the difference between many claims made and the actual performance of different clothing types from rider jeans to gloves. The results are often surprising,” Dr Wigan says. 

“Another under-used safety clothing is the range of blow-up vests that every MotoGP rIder uses with phenomenal results.Dr Marcus Wigan

“But MotoCap cannot do the incredibly useful Australian detailed tests and reports on their actual performance. 

“All it needs is the funding to do it; then the far more detailed and relevant results MotoCap is rightly famous for can be made available for Aussie use. 

“The costs are now down to that of upper-level ordinary protective clothing and proper promotion could reduce these costs and this access tremendously.” 

He says MotoCAP tests could also include assessments of the electromagnetic radiation interactions that stop pacemaker and implanted device users using them.

Dr Wigan is currently researching what these measures need to be and has been unsuccessfully trying to access available Victorian Motorycle Safety Levy to fund his study.

Currently $15.4 million collected by the levy is not yet allocated.

“I’ve had little success so far as there is almost no way of engaging with the bureaucrats (not motorcycle riders) who apparently control the levy,” he says.

“These people are inaccessible even to appropriate professionals, such as myself as an example, to discuss these issues.”

Last month, Retired industry veteran and Two Wheel Action Group spokesman Stuart Strickland OAM complained about the secrecy of the fund and the ministerial advisory panel on motorcycle issues.

*About MotoCAP

MotoCAP is a partnership between Transport for NSW, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), VicRoads, Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), Lifetime Support Authority (LSA), the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, Western Australian Police: Road Safety Commission, Department of State Growth, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Australian Motorcycle Council and Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand.

Testing is carried out by the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials on behalf of the MotoCAP partners.

All gear rated so far has been obtained through a secretive buying system to guarantee integrity.

In 2019, MotoCAP won a Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) road safety award.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Motorcycle trainer ‘gamifies’ rider training

Australian motorcycle trainere motoDNA has developed a computer software system that analyses rider behaviour and uses a computer game environment to reward riders and improve their skills.

Founder Mark McVeigh says the system is “100% data driven”.

Using a GoPro mounted on your motorbike, the motoDNA software analyses riding, grades the rider and compared them to thousands of other riders.

Their algorithms are used to teach riders how to improve their skills in a “gamified” rewards-based community platform.

Mark says its black-box thinking similar to that used in the aviation industry.

“Aviation industry crashes are taken very seriously and as a result have an astonishing safety record,” he says. 

“Every plane has a black box which is opened when there is an accident or close call. 

“The root cause is clearly understood and then recreated with quality training in a simulator, so pilots take the correct and intuitive reaction to the problem when it happens again in the future.

“This evidence-based analytical loop ensures that procedures are adapted so that the same mistake doesn’t happen again.” 

However, motoDNA doesn’t use crash data. It uses data collected by participants in their training courses.

Mark says high-quality training and rewards have worked in other countries.

In Norway, high-quality training has reduced the percentage of motorcycle riders involved in accidents from 5% in 1980 to 0.26% in 2020.

Mark also points to the success of the New Zealand Government’s Ride Forever program which rewards riders riders who undertake extra training with rego discounts. 

He says this rewards system has resulted in a 27% for reduction in crashes for those riders who have done a skills course.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Riders asked to submit to safety inquiry

Riders from all states, not just Tasmanian residents, have been urged to contribute to a Tasmanian Road Safety Inquiry given the state is a Mecca for riders from all over Australia. 

The Tasmanian Legislative Council last week announced the inquiry after the Apple Isle recorded six rider deaths to the end of May this year, compared with two for the same time in the past couple of years.

While numbers are small, the government says the state has 6.6 road deaths per 100,000 population which is among the highest in the nation.

However, Australian Motorcycle Council chairman Shaun Lennard who has long fought for rider safety issues and attended many national and international road safety summits cautions about knee-jerk responses to statistics.

Shaun Lennard AMC chairman
Shaun Lennard AMC chairman

“We see numbers fluctuate from year to year. It’s important to look at longer term trends, and with road safety we commonly look at five years,” he says. 

“It would be useful to know what are the key factors in these crashes and if there are common threads.”

Shaun says safe infrastructure is vital for vulnerable riders, but not the only answer.

“The AMC supports the ‘Safe System’ approach to road safety, but we are concerned that most of the efforts are directed at safer roads and safer vehicles,” he says. 

“Forgiving roads and infrastructure in the event of a crash are no doubt important. That’s why we’re actively involved in issues around barrier placement and lower rub rail installation, for example. 

“However, for a rider, the better thing is not to crash in the first place. ‘Safer road users’ is also a pillar of the Safe System, and we believe more should be done around rider education.

“The age-old mantra that training doesn’t improve safety isn’t necessarily correct for motorcycle riders.”

He points to the New Zealand Government’s Ride Forever program that provides rego discounts for riders who undertake extra training. 

“Their evaluations have shown a reduction in crash occurrence of 27% for riders who have done their skills course,” he says.

The Motorcycle Riders Association of Australia urges all motorcycle and scooter riders to make submissions to the inquiry with ideas to make Tassie roads safer. 

They say their submission will be similar to the one they sent to the Victorian road safety inquiry which can be seen at www.parliament.vic.gov.au. (Go to “committees” and click Economy & Infrastructure).

The MRAA submissions will include:
  • Road user education (Car driver error causes most pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcyclist injuries so improving driver competence and behaviour is good for all road users);
  • Opposition to wire rope barriers and newer barrier types with exposed posts;
  • A call for changes to compulsory third party insurance to reflect the efficiency of the various types of transport in terms of personal mobility and environmental friendliness;
  • CTP insurance should also offer no-claim-bonuses to encourage safer road use in a fairer system;
  • Free transport of motorbikes on the Bass Strait ferries;
  • More and better information for riders visiting the State; and
  • Introduce Victorian style free footpath parking to Tasmania.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

State removes some rider safety barriers

Lower rub rails on safety barriers that are important for the safety of riders have proliferated in recent years, but now the Queensland Government is removing some where they trap wildlife on the road.

You could be forgiven for thinking that riders’ lives are considered less important than the lives of snakes, wallabies, possums, echidnas and bandicoots.

However, many lower “W beam” rub rails have been installed on benign straight stretches and the inside of curves, rather than the outside where riders are far more likely to crash.

Lower rub rails are about to be removed on a stretch of Gold Coast hinterland road to protect wildlife that is being trapped on the road and run over.

The rails are considered important in the event of a motorcycle crash as they prevent the rider hitting the lethal upright posts.

But a lot of money has been wasted over the years installing rub rails on sections where riders are highly unlikely to crash.

The money would be better spent installing the rails on more dangerous sections.

The Queensland Government’s Transport and Main Roads department is now believed to be rewriting its rules on rub rails.

Their first move will be to remove rub rails from sections every 2-300m in an eight-kilometre stretch of Beaudesert-Nerang Road at Witheren and Clagiraba, a popular motorcycle route to Beechmont and the Numinbah Valley.

This is an area where many wildlife have been killed because they are trapped on the road by the rub rails which are too close to the ground to squeeze through.

The rails are also so close to the ground that the grass and general debris has now blocked the natural drainage and water is retained on the road, increasing the risk to all vehicles of aquaplaning.

Transport and Main Roads south coast regional director Paul Noonan said in a statement that they have “worked extensively with engineering and road safety professionals to balance the need for guardrail to protect motorists and providing safe access for wildlife in the area”.

“A lot of analysis has been done to solve this problem, and I’m pleased to say we have a solution,” he says.

Work to remove the rails begins this month before the koala breeding season starts.

Let’s hope the rails are put to better use elsewhere.

The Australian Motorcycle Council has issued the following statement:

The Queensland TMR are to be commended for their previous introduction of a requirement for all new W Beam installations to have motorcycle rub rails, but they now recognise that the criteria in their guidelines was flawed.  Better consultation with knowledgeable and representative Motorcycle bodies may well have corrected these flaws and avoided the resulting problems with trapped wildlife and also with water retention on the road due to debris blocking drainage under the rub rails.
The danger to all road users from deep water retention in Queensland storms is a concern to all riders and would justify the planned removal of rub rails from the inside of bends and on long straights, but not on the recognised danger areas for riders, e.g. the outside of bends of defined radius.
The AMC would like to see better Motorcycle representation and consultation with all and any Government body in future Queensland road safety initiatives, especially the re-write of the W Beam Rub Rail criteria.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Rider gear sacrifices safety for comfort

Motorcycle jackets and pants that have good breathability for the warmer riding months sacrifice safety standards, according to the latest test results from Australia’s internationally awarded MotoCAP motorcycle gear safety ratings service.

MotoCAP has now performed testing and issued safety and comfort ratings ratings for 354 items of rider jackets, gloves and pants.

The MotoCAP safety intitiative launched in September 2018 and is the first of its type in the world.

It has now added 14 more products to its online ratings of 172 jackets, 90 pairs of pants and 92 pairs of gloves.

The new safety ratings for seven jackets and seven pairs of pants range from one to three out of five stars for safety.

They show that you can’t have it all when it comes to safety and comfort in hot conditions.

Jackets and pants that have good breathability score low for safety and vice versa.

For example, the Bullit Easy Tactical Icon pants score just one safety star but a maximum five for beathability.

Meanwhile, Dainese Delta 3 leather pants performed well for safety with three out of five stars, but just two for breathability.

It’s not that we haven’t suspected the trade-off on comfort and safety, but it’s interesting to see that sciebce back up our suspicions.

The new ratings for jackets can be viewed here. The new ratings for pants can be viewed here.

Riders are urged to consider checking the safety and comfort ratings of gear before they buy.

Shapeheart Classic Handlebar Phone Mounting System

While some have disputed the veracity or usefulness of the tests, rider representative groups and road safety experts say MotoCAP at least makes riders more aware of wearing protective gear.

MotoCAP is a partnership between Transport for NSW, State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA), VicRoads, Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV), Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC), Lifetime Support Authority (LSA), the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, Western Australian Police: Road Safety Commission, Department of State Growth, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Australian Motorcycle Council and Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand.

Testing is carried out by the Deakin University Institute for Frontier Materials on behalf of the MotoCAP partners.

All gear rated so far has been obtained through a secretive buying system to guarantee integrity.

In 2019, MotoCAP won a Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) road safety award.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Grip comes to painted road surfaces

Painted road surfaces that present a dangerous slip hazard to motorcycle and scooter riders could son be a thing of the past with new grippy surface treatments.

Australian company OmniGrip has commissioned to replace painted surfaces such as bus and bike lanes and pedestrian crossings with their special treatment in several Victorian cities and more recently Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Now the Victorian company is so confident that more of these dangerous surfaces will be replaced with their treatment, it is opening up in Queensland.

Dave Jones, External Affairs Director for Smarterlife the Australian manufacturers of non-slip OmniGrip road surface treatment says it is not paint, but a coloured aggregate using recycled Australian glass.

He claims it has the same grip levels as the surrounding tarmac and lasts about seven years which is longer than painted road surfaces.

OmniGrip Direct also provides calcined bauxite safety surfaces that improve grip between the road surface and a motor vehicle’s tyres (motorbikes, cars, buses and trucks). It is particularly effective at reducing wet weather crashes.

The rollout of this grippy road treatment was suspended in 2020 due to COVID, but the company is opening a new office and depot in Brisbane to work with councils and state road agencies in Queensland and northern NSW.

Chief road safety expert Dave Jones says they are talking to Councils about its use but deals aren’t finalised just yet.

OmniGrip CST on cnr of Leitchs Rd and Stanley St Brendale Brisbane (2) (1) (1)
OmniGrip CST on the corner of Leitchs Rd and Stanley St, Brendale, in Brisbane.

Sites in use already in Queensland are:

  • Stanley St and Leitchs Rd in Brendale (Calcined Bauxite High Friction Surface plus Green Recycled-Glass bike lane, late 2019)
  • Griffith Road and Boardman Rd, Newport (Calcined Bauxite High Friction Surface on roundabout, early 2020)
  • Park Road at Patricks Road intersection, Ferny Hill (Calcined Bauxite High Friction Surface late 2019)
  • Collins Road at Francis Road intersection, Arana Hills (Calcined Bauxite High Friction Surface, late 2019)
  • Clear Mountain Road at Winn Road intersection, Mount Sampson (Calcined Bauxite High Friction Surface, late 2019)

 OmniGrip Direct’s safety surfaces are also used on red bus lanes and with calcined bauxite to improve rural and urban road safety.

A national industry forum heard that the Transport and Main Roads Department is lifting the standard and requirements for contractors that lay coloured surfaces on their roads such as in bus lanes and bike lanes.

ROHITESH UPADHYAY breaking the record for world's longest no-hands wheelie October 2019

TMR is also banning some types of painted products and require independent assessment and approval by the Australian Road Research Board for any product they do use.

Queensland Councils are also signatories to the process and will adopt it.

Dave has welcomed the move.

“The implication for riders is that coloured surfaces that riders cross will have higher texture, for longer, reducing the likelihood that riders will slide or skid when stopping or turning,” he says.

“For example when riders turn across bus lanes or bike lanes at intersections.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com