Tag Archives: road safety

Show of concern for rider safety

Riders have been called to show their support and concern for their safety tomorrow ahead of a major Victorian Road Trauma Summit next Friday (31 May 2019).

Melbourne riders are asked to gather outside the ABC studios at 120 Southbank Boulevard tomorrow from 9-10.30am during a radio forum on safety that previews the government’s summit.

They are also urged to contact the talkback number (1300 222 774 or SMS 0437 774 774 rates apply) to voice their concerns about rider safety.

The ABC’s Jon Faine will host a panel on Radio 774 discussing the road toll and what can be done.

The panel includes the Traffic Accident Commission, VicRoads, Monash University Accident Research Centre and Police.

You can listen in here.

Victorian lives lostWhat to do if you have been involved in a motorcycle accident crash

So far this year, 26 motorcyclists have died on Victorian roads which is nine above the five-year average of 17 and 10 more than last year. Many more have been injured and there haas been a spate of hit-and-run accidents leaving riders dead or injured.

The state government’s summit on Friday will include experts from the TAC, VicRoads, VicPol, MUARC, RACV, Road Trauma Support Services Victoria and cycling and motorcycle advocates including the Victorian Motorcycle Council and the Motorcycle Expert Advisory Panel.

It will be hosted by Minister for Roads, Road Safety and the TAC Jaala Pulford and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville.

Community roundtables will also be held across regional Victoria where road deaths have spiked at 72 compared with 41 in metropolitan Melbourne.

The summit will build on the $1.4 billion Towards Zero road safety strategy, Jaala says.

Riders respond

Victorian Motorcycle Council spokesman John Eacott says there is an urgent need for an independent agency to gather and collate statistics.

Other issues include:

  • A proper campaign to educate all road users about filtering, both for safety and for congestion relief;
  • Urgent implementation of an advanced and/or refresher training programme for all riders with a government subsidy;
  • Completely stop any reference to ‘returning riders’ in any way, shape or form when discussing stats as there are no statistics available to identify any such subset; and
  • Funding for rural road upkeep – primary safety to prevent accidents instead of secondary safety spending to mitigate accident severity.

“The shock horror use of year-to-date fatalities instead of rolling 12-month or five-year averages is a constant irritation,” he says.

The Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria believes the spike in the Victorian road toll has three main contributing factors:

  1. Inadequate crash data leading to bad policies and countermeasures;
  2. Neglected roads left in dangerous condition by VicRoads; and
  3. Incompetence in road management.

Spokesman Damien Codognotto says road authorities tend to blame the victims “rather than investigate and fix their own shortcomings”.

“The 2019 crash spike is not a spike in bad road user behaviour, it’s a failure in road safety policy and road management,” he says.

“Road authorities may divert attention from shortcomings in their systems with expensive media campaigns and/or road safety summits.”

The MRA is calling an independent office of road safety data, abolition of the motorcycle safety levy and a stop to the rollout of wire rope barriers with the funds saved used to repair neglected country roads.

“You can’t develop reliable road safety policies without reliable crash data collected in Australian conditions,” he says.

“Solving data problems is critical to motorcycle safety but the Victorian organisations dealing with our data do not want the public to think their systems are less than perfect.”

Lives lost to midnight 23 May 2019, Victoria

2018 Lives lost 2019 Lives lost
85 131 (up 54.1%)
Fatalities (equivalent periods)
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 5 year
99 104 113 100 85 100
Gender 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
Female 26 33 7 27% 27
Male 59 98 39 66% 73
Unknown 0 0 0 0% 0
Road user
Road user 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
Bicyclist 1 5 4 400% 4
Driver 39 60 21 54% 46
* *“>26 *“>62% Passenger 15 22 7 47% 18
Pedestrian 14 18 4 29% 15
Unknown 0 0 0 0% 0
Location 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
Melbourne 41 49 8 20% 47
Rural vic 44 82 38 86% 53
Unknown 0 0 0 0% 0
Age Group
Age Group 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
0 to 4 0 1 1 100% 1
5 to 15 2 4 2 100% 2
16 to 17 0 3 3 300% 2
18 to 20 6 10 4 67% 8
21 to 25 5 8 3 60% 10
26 to 29 3 9 6 200% 9
30 to 39 15 14 -1 -7% 13
40 to 49 8 15 7 88% 13
50 to 59 16 22 6 38% 12
60 to 69 14 16 2 14% 12
70 and over 16 29 13 81% 17
Unknown 0 0 0 0% 0
Level of urbanisation
Level of urbanisation 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
Provincial cities/towns 10 10 0 0% 8
Rural roads 45 83 38 84% 56
Small towns/hamlets 2 3 1 50% 1
** **“>35 **“>25% Unknown 0 0 0 0% 0
* includes pillion riders
** Melbourne Statistical Division includes some rural roads
Note: Fatality data is compiled by the TAC from police reports supplied by Victoria Police. Fatality data is revised each day, with the exception of weekends and public holidays. Data is subject to revision as additional information about known accidents is received, and as new accident reports are received and processed.
5 year average rounded to nearest whole number

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Fluid-filled helmet protects your brain

Fluid-filled capsules inside a motorcycle helmet could prevent damage to your brain in a crash by acting like the liquid that surrounds your brain.

Fluid Inside has developed their Fluid Pods after 25 years of research into how the liquid around our brain helps protect it from impact.

Their first helmet is the Fox V3 motocross helmet (pictured at the top of the page) that includes the pods in the lining instead of the usual EPS foam.

This innovation may soon be coming to a range of other motorcycle helmets after Swedish brain safety technology company MIPS (Multi-directional Impact Protection System) recently acquired Fluid Inside’s patents.

Fluid Pods

Fluid Pods helmet
Fluid Pod

Fluid Inside head of product communication Mike Chiasson says the pods are filled with a low-viscous, organic, oil-based liquid that mimics the cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) around the brain.

It apparently disperses the impact in a crash to isolate the brain from crashing into the skull.

Such impacts have been known to cause serious brain damage.

However, the pods may also protect riders from memory loss, vision impairment and even Parkinson’s Disease by protecting the brain from the small and frequent impacts riders may cop when riding over bumpy surfaces or off-road.

The pods could be integrated into a helmet at production or inserted as an aftermarket addition to the lining.

They could also be used in other helmets for other sports such as cycling.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Grass clippings a real risk for riders

Riders should add grass clippings to their list of road hazards and stay alert, take avoidance action and consider reporting the hazard to authorities.

Grass clippings can not only be a slip hazard for motorcyclists, especially if they get wet, but also the dry grass can blow up into a rider’s eyes, blinding them.

As the United States celebrates May as Motorcycle Awarensss Month, American rider groups are alerting other riders and authorities to the dangers of clippings on the road.

In fact, some states such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania are now considering making it illegal to blow lawn clippings on to a road.

Grass clippings illegalgrass clippings road hazard

However, it’s already illegal in Australia to dump any substance on a road that could cause injury or damage. Fines range up to more than $4000 and/or six months in jail.

Yet we continue to see clippings left on the road by lazy and negligent slashing contractors and farmers, or deliberately blown on to the road by ignorant homeowners.

Contractors and council workers cutting grass on roadsides and median strips are obliged to put out appropriate warning signs.

Riders should slow down and be alert if they see these signs, mowing or slashing equipment on the roadside, or other hints that grass has recently been cut.

They should also do their best to alert other riders either by waving to slow down or maybe posting a photo on social media.

Report hazards

Riders should also report road hazards such as grass clippings to road authorities.

Grass clippings are considered as much a road hazard by authorities as gravel, sand, oil or other substances.

You can report hazards on local roads to the relevant local council.

If the hazard is on a state road, report it to the state authorities:

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Readers support helmet scanning service

More than 70% of respondents to a survey have supported a $40 helmet scanning service to check for hidden fractures in your helmet.

The Helmet Doctors who developed the helmet laser-scanning invention say it would give riders peace of mind that their helmet is safe to use after a drop or crash, or whether it needs to be replaced.

The Sunshine Coast family business asked Motorbike Writer in February to publish a link to a survey about their service and received more than 430 respondents.

Federal funding

Brayden Robinson, who founded the venture with this father, Scott, says the Federal Government is considering some funding for the safety service but needed to know if it would be well received by riders, racers and the motorcycle industry.

“Just over 72% (of survey respondents) said they would be prepared to pay for the scanning service once a year or after every accident and some even said twice a year,” he says.

“We’ve had both really positive and negative feedback from people which is all very helpful.

“AusIndustry commercialisation advisors told us that if we received 100 responses it would be good, 200 would be convincing and 300 would be conclusive.

“Well, we’ve now had more than 430 respondents and the survey is still open.”

You can take part in their quick 10-question online survey by clicking here.

The scanning service has stalled while the Federal Government is in caretaker mode, but Brayden and Scott are confident even a change in government will not affect funding.

Crash starts study

helmet doctors scanning
Brayden is taken away in the ambulance

Scott and Brayden began researching a helmet scanning system after Brayden was hospitalised with a fractured skull from a motocross crash.

They developed their device with the help of a Belgian company and the Composites Research Group in the School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering at The University of Queensland.

“We found this laser scanning technique can categorically guarantee that, if there is any damage to the helmet’s outer shell, our technique will identify it. It’s ground-breaking, proven science,” Scott says.

The Helmet Doctors have a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application that allows them to enter their patent application into any of 152 jurisdictions by 23 June 2020. 

At present the application has been examined by the international PCT body and all but one claim has been found to be novel over identified existing technology.

Need for scanning

Helmet Doctors laser scanning helmets
Helmet scanner

Scott says very few riders know exactly when to replace their helmet.

Manufacturing safety standards say a composite helmet has a lifespan of five years and, if used frequently, about three years.

But what if you drop it or have a crash?

“We have all heard how if you drop your helmet once you should replace it. But very few do this,” Scott says.

“No one knows how much impact a composite helmet can tolerate before the shell is critically weakened.

“Composite materials have many layers and tiny fibres that can be damaged in a fall.

“The impact energy is dispersed among the fibres and away from the brain which it is designed to do.

“This is why a dropped helmet may still look ok.

“However, the impact could have led to a small crack or splintering which you can’t see with the naked eye.

“Our device can view, read and record the helmet 100,000 times better than the naked eye and find if there are any cracks, splintering or deformations which would make the helmet defective and unable to withstand another impact.”

Helmet scanning scheme

Helmet Doctors laser scan helmets scanning
Helmet scan identifies a flaw

The Helmet Doctors plan to test their service first in South East Queensland.

Riders would take their helmet to a participating motorcycle dealer where they would leave it and pick it up a few days later.

The helmet would be sent to the nearest scanner depot where it would be scanned, assessed and returned.

Scott says the Federal Government is considering some funding for the safety service but needs to know if it would be well received by riders, racers and the motorcycle industry.

“As you could imagine this experimental laser camera is very expensive, but our goal is to make this service accessible and cheap enough for everyone to use it,” Scott says.

If the project is successful, they hope to extend the service to other states and overseas.

If you have a few minutes, click here to take this short 10-question survey and help the Helmet Doctors.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Does your head crush like a cabbage in a crash?

If you believe your head will crush as easily as a cabbage if you crash, then this video of some helmets being crushed will be of interest.

Crush test

The video from the “Hydraulic Press Channel” on Youtube shows a cabbage in several types of helmet including half and full-face motorcycle helmets, an army helmet and a cycle helmet.

Advance to the 4:20-minute mark and you will find the full-face motorcycle obviously holds up the best to the 150 ton (136 tonne) hydraulic press.

It doesn’t really tell us anything useful about impact resistance, but it’s good to know there is some protection if a 136-tonne truck runs over your head in a crash.

If you want to know the real-world safety rating of helmets, we suggest two sites.

The NSW Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH) crash-tests 30 helmets a year and releases the details every November.

It is not as comprehensive as the similar British SHARP helmet safety scheme which has tested and rated hundreds of helmets, almost all of which are now available for sale in Australia.

Click here if you want to know if helmet safety is related to the cost of your helmet.

Crash stats

Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet modular crush
Icon Airframe Statistic motorcycle helmet shows impact areas by percentage

Meanwhile, the Icon Airframe helmet (above) shows the percentage chance of parts of your helmet suffering an impact in a crash.

The crash statistics come from the 1981 Hurt Report and show that the most common area of impact on motorcycle helmets is the chin at 19.4%.

The least vulnerable place is the very top of the head at 0.4%, as shown in the crushing video above for the half helmet, although it is the cabbage that crushes before the helmet!

Both the video and the statistics helmet are good arguments for wearing a full-face over an open-face motorcycle helmet.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

MotoCAP rates leather gloves for safety

MotoCAP has published the safety ratings on 13 pairs of leather gloves ranging from half a star to four stars, but has not released any comfort ratings.

In the latest round of testing, the highest performing gloves are the Rev’It RSR 3 unisex gloves which received a four-star rating.

One pair of Alpinestars gloves (pictured top of page) rated three stars, DriRider and Merlin rated two stars, six rated one star and three rated half a star.

Click here for the full results.leather gloves

No comfort ratings

The world’s first safety and comfort ratings system for motorcycle clothing provides comfort ratings for thermal comfort and waterproofing on jackets and pants, but not gloves.

That is despite some of the gloves tested having perforations for airflow.

It also comes as the latest Canstar Blue customer satisfaction research found Baby Boomers are more likely to choose comfortable motorcycle gloves while Millennial riders buy for style.

However, three pairs of gloves were tested and rated for water resistance because they were advertised as having this feature.

The highest performing pair are the DriRider Apex 2 unisex gloves, which received a score of eight out of ten for water resistance.

MotoCAP ratings

Motocap Motorcycle clothing rating system launched The world’s first motorcycle clothing safety ratings program, MotoCAP, has given only half a star to two stars to eight more pair of textile pants.
A dummy dressed in riding gear is tested for abrasion resistance

MotoCAP has now tested 31 textile and leather jackets, 18 pairs of jeans and leggings, seven pair of leather pants, one pair of textile pants and 26 pairs of gloves.

Deakin Uni Institute for Frontier Materials Senior Research Fellow and Honda GB400 rider Chris Hurren says the site will have 150 clothing products on its site by the end of June.

“We have purposely targeted only 10% of the market in the first year so that manufacturers have a chance to come along with the scheme,” he says.

“We do not want to put a manufacturer out of business as we want them to improve their products and think about protection and thermal comfort in their design.”

“If they follow this path like car manufacturers did for ANCAP then the rider will always be the winner.”

So far, no article of motorcycle clothing has been provided by a manufacturer.

All have been bought by MotoCAP using a secretive buying system to guarantee integrity.

Click here to find out how products are selected for rating in secret.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Swann backs down on age barrier

Swann Insurance has dropped its age cut-off for motorcycle insurance after a 76-year-old professor was denied insurance for his Indian Scout motorcycle last year.

Dr Marcus Wigan had been trying to enter an online Swann Insurance MotoGP competition in which entrants only had to apply for a quote. The competition gave no stipulation of an age limit.

However, when he filled in his birth date, the online application rejected his entry with the comment: “Age is not acceptable”. Marcus Wigan age Swann Insurance

The emeritus professor of transport tried to fill out the competition several times but was repeatedly rejected for his age.

“Ageism takes many forms,” says Marcus who has been riding for 62 years “without a single accident” and had been insured in the 1990s with Swann.

He phoned Swann’s parent company, IAG, who told him they had a “business rule” that no quotes were handled for ages over 75.

Marcus made several follow-up phone calls.

“Finally a junior manager entered my details manually. I didn’t win,” he says.

Marcus left a formal complaint and received a phone call from IAG’s lawyer who followed up with a letter stating that they felt the manual entry had covered Swann’s requirements in this case.

Human rights issue

Marcus Wigan harassment age
Marcus Wigan

Marcus then rang the Australian Human Rights Commission and asked if he had a valid age discrimination complaint.

“After a while I was asked by HRC to state what would resolve my complaint. I stated effectively exactly what IAG finally decided to enact,” he says.

Marcus received the following letter on April 1, although it is no joke!

Swann’s Guidelines and acceptance criteria will b e adjusted to accept quotations for motorcycle riders aged over 75 automatically, without any requirement for discretion. Further, Swann’s online systems rules and ratings will reflect the automatic acceptance of quotations for motorcycle ridders aged over 75. Swann will ensure that all relevant staff are aware of the updated acceptance rules. Whether cover is offered is otherwise subject to the usual underwriting criteria.

We contacted the Australian Financial Complaints Authority who advised that each insurer has their own underwriting criteria.

They refused to comment on this case.

Marcus says the Swann decision is a good model for the insurance industry to adopt.

“It is what I asked for, it’s perfectly sensible and allows normal underwriting analyses and decisions to continue without arbitrary age cutoffs as ‘business rules’,” he says.

Age restrictions on licencebeard age

There is no age restriction on motor vehicle licences.

However, each state does have certain restrictions on aged licence holders.

They may be required to carry a current medical certificate and have annual or biennial medical check-ups to assess their suitability to hold a licence.

They may also be restricted to the use of a vehicle within certain times and areas.

There is no distinction between licences for cars or motorcycles.

Click here for more specific details on aged licence restrictions.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Should you switch off at long roadworks stops?

A recent reader asked if it was legal, safe and wise to switch off the motorcycle when stopped for a long time at roadworks.

Firstly, it is not illegal to switch off your motorcycle when stopped at roadworks or even the traffic lights.

In fact, many modern cars have stop-go technology that automatically switches off the engine when stopped so long as your foot remains on the brake.

It is designed to save fuel and reduce emissions. The car restarts automatically when you release the brake.

The technology also now available in some scooters and coming soon to motorcycles.

Safe and wise?Roadworks warranty

Whether it is safe and wise is another matter.

When you stop at lights or roadworks, it is always advisable to position your bike in a wheel track and leave it running in case a vehicle behind does not stop.

Then you can choose an escape route, let the clutch out and get out of the way.

Some say it damages your clutch to hold the lever in and leave the engine running.

RACQ technical and road safety officer Steve Spalding says that if it’s a short wait, you will not do any damage to your bike’s clutch.

“The wear point is actually on the linkage that holds the clutch in the disengaged position,” says Steve, who owns a Suzuki Bandit and Triumph Bonneville.

“If you are waiting a long period and your bike has a wet clutch, you might like to switch off or pop the bike into neutral as there will be drag on the clutch pack and driveline,” he says.

Time to switch offRoadworks switch

Once traffic behind you has stopped and the rear-end collision danger is mitigated, you may choose to switch off the engine.

This will not only save fuel and emissions but also help reduce the heat on your legs as you wait, often in the hot sun.

Also, you should think about your engine.

Air-cooled bikes don’t like idling for long periods.

While modern liquid-cooled bikes don’t have that problem, they are tuned to burn lean which makes them very hot on your legs when idling.

However, if you have filtered to the front of the roadworks or traffic-light queue, it might be frustrating and annoying for motorists behind you if your bike doesn’t restart quickly!

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Survey seeks crashed rider help

Riders who have crashed in the past decade are being invited to do a survey into rider behaviour that expands on a previous pilot study into the effects of ABS in motorcycle crashes.

Click Here to participate in the “Dynamics of Motorcycle Crashes Survey”.

Pilot study

In 2016, UK motorcycle road safety researcher Dr Elaine Hardy contacted us to attract Australian riders who had been in an ABS-equipped bike crash to participate in her pilot study.

A year later she released the results of the first real-world study of ABS effectiveness called “Effects of ABS in motorcycle crashes”.

It involved surveying 61 male riders and one female from Australia and Europe who had been riding an ABS-equipped motorcycle when they crashed.

The pilot study found that the correlation between speed and serious injuries was random and indicated that riders overwhelmingly recognised the risk of injury and thus wore protective clothing and helmets.

Now Elaine is again seeking riders from around the world to participate in her new survey.

“We don’t know if there is any difference between riders in the UK, US or Australia, which is one of the reasons for doing the survey,” she says. 

“I don’t know the most common causes of crashes for motorcyclists apart from what ever information is ‘out there’, hence the survey.”

Elaine says she will provides with a report on the study at the beginning of next year.Crash accident wreck road safety tail-gate tailgate crashed

Crashed riders’ perspective

“From a rider’s perspective, we are constantly being criticised for speeding, being risky or being responsible for our own crashes and injuries,” Elaine says.

“But we know that it’s not that simple. In fact it’s complicated and it would be really helpful to understand what happens, how it happens and why it happens.

“There are numerous factors that need to be considered in all crashes and it’s time that you the rider gave your perspective about the circumstances.”

The survey will remain live for six months and the aim is to produce a report for the beginning of 2020.

Survey analysts

Elaine says everyone in her team of investigative analysts is also a motorcyclist.

The analysts are: Stephane Espie, Research Director IFSTTAR, France; Elaine Hardy, Motorcycle Research Analyst, UK; Dimitris Margaritis, Research Associate, CERTH/HIT, Greece; James Ouellet, Hurt Report co-author, USA; and Martin Winkelbauer, Senior Researcher, KFV, Austria.

The new survey is designed to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of motorcycle crashes.

It expands on the pilot study and is provided in eight different languages: French, Swedish, Norwegian, German, Spanish, Italian, Greek and English.

The survey will be disseminated throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, South America and beyond.

“This time the survey looks at motorcycles with and without ABS in order to provide a comprehensive comparison of these braking systems,” Elaine says.

Riders are asked 39 questions divided into four sections: 1) About you and your motorcycle; 2) Background; 3) Crash Details; 4) Comments.

None of the questions is mandatory and responses are anonymous.

Click Here to participate in the “Dynamics of Motorcycle Crashes Survey”.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Riding lessons now a uni course

How would you like to earn credit points toward your degree by learning to ride a motorcycle in a special uni course!

It sounds like a dream come true and a great way to encourage millennials to ride.

Unfortunately, it is so far only available at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

It’s yet another smart marketing move by Harley-Davidson to get more riders on motorcycles.

Harley-Davidson Marketing Programs Manager Claudia Garber says the company is committed to “building the next generation of riders and meeting them where they are – in this case on campus”.

The pilot uni course is being operated by the Harley-Davidson Riding Academy who hope to roll it out as a course option at other colleges and universities.

Harley-Davidson Australia marketing head honcho Keith Waddell says the integration of the H-D Riding Academy into the local “uni is a great idea and a great way to encourage the next generation of riders”.

“We will be watching the progress of the initiative with interest, however we have no plans to roll out for Australia or New Zealand at this stage,” he says.

Such a course would teach young people some much-needed skills about spatial awareness, road craft and vulnerability in traffic.

It may also make them better future drivers who look out for motorcyclists.

Licensing planPolice chase dodgy bike licence holders unlicensed uni course

The uni course follows a recent South Australia plan to increase the learner rider age and make it a requirement for learner riders to first have a car licence.

Our readers say it should be the other way around – car drivers should first have to get a motorcycle licence.

While that will never happen, several European countries allow young teens to ride 50cc scooters.

This promotes a healthy attitude about safety and respect for riders that seems to carry on later in their motoring life.

Anyone who has ridden in Europe will have witnessed the motorcycle awareness of drivers who sometimes wave you through or even move over to let you pass.

Uni course

A great way to get this process started is with education.

But maybe not just as uni course.

What ever happened to driver education in schools?

The Milwaukee uni course, riding Harley Street 500 motorcycles, will be an elective subject as part of their health sciences degree.

Harley Street 500 uni course
MBW on the Harley Street 500

Students will not only learn to ride, but also be required to attend classroom lessons about the parts and functions of a motorcycle and safe riding behaviour.

The uni course includes use of a training motorcycle, course materials, and insurance.

Students who complete the course will not only receive one general credit toward their degree, but also an MSF completion card.

In many states that means they are exempt from the riding portion of a state motorcycle licence test and may qualify riders for discounted motorcycle insurance. 

Interested students must have a valid automobile driver’s licence or learner’s permit and the ability to ride a bicycle.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com