Tag Archives: road safety

Call for rider views on safety

Victorian riders are invited to attend a motorcycle safety forum next month to pass on to the State Government.

The forum on 19 May 2022 during National Road Safety Week has been organised by the Victorian Chapter of the Australasian College of Road Safety.

They have invited motorcycle riding group representatives and riders to attend. 

College spokesman Dr Tana Tan says the collated input will be submitted to the Victorian Government “for their consideration as they develop the motorcycle safety strategy”.

Aussie knowhow helps Thai riders stay safe Safe System Solutions Pty Ltd learn learner novice training licensed licensing
Dr Tana Tan

Topics for discussion include:

  • Safe vehicles (motorcycles, cars and trucks);
  • Speed limits;
  • Protective gear standards, legislation, promotion;
  • Training, skills, enforcement, licensing;
  • Infrastructure design, operation and maintenance; and 
  • Other topics that affect motorcycle safety.

Numbers at the forum at the City of Melbourne Bowls Club in Dudley St, West Melbourne, are limited, so register now by clicking here.

College members attend free, but others will have to pay a $15 fee.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

MotoCAP allows riders to compare gear

Eight motorcycle jackets and five pairs of riding pants have been added to the growing list of motorcycle gear rated by the award-winning MotoCAP website so riders can compare items before buying.

MotoCAP has now tested a total of 443 jackets, gloves and pants and now includes helmet safety and comfort ratings.

In the latest round of testing, RST Kevlar Tech Pro CE Mens denim pants and BMW PaceGuard textile pants were the highest performing, receiving four out of five stars for safety.

BMW Paceguard gear

The BMW PaceGuard pants are now the highest performing non-denim textile pants for safety and also received ten out of ten for water resistance.

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

The online site also allows readers to view items side by side for easier comparisons before buying.

The MotoCAP website now also includes helmet ratings after merging information from the Australian NSW Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH) ratings site, previously published on crash.org.au.

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

It is based on evidence from crash injury research and the test protocols of the current industry standard. It is an initiative of state automobile clubs and transport departments.

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

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.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Advice on avoiding road rage

Riders seem to cop more road rage than other motorists.

This could be because we are seen as road menaces, making loud noises, zipping through the traffic (even though filtering is legal) and skipping to the front of the queue at the lights.

It could also be because we are seen as non-threatening because of our size. It’s easy to menace another road user if you are in a big pickup and they are on a scooter or motorcycle!

And if we react to road rage, we are likely to come off second best.

So, as riders, we have to learn to avoid it and/or live with it and not react which can escalate the situation.Road rage doesn’t pay

We have previously published tips on avoiding road rage from Queensland Police Senior Sergeant Ian Park who created the #ridesafely4me Facebook site.

“Unfortunately, it seems to involve individuals from all road user groups as both the victims and the perpetrators,” he says. 

“Motorcyclists and bicyclists are of course the most vulnerable due to the lack of physical protection around them. But the fundamentals of personal safety of the roads are no different to anywhere else,” he says.

Click here if you would like to read Ian’s tips to avoiding road rage.

Now Aussie car rental company StressFreeCarRental.com have come up with a guide to tackling road rage before it occurs.

Their following tips are relevant to all motorists and riders can certainly learn something from them:

Stay in the right: It is never a good idea to copy what another driver has done on the road, if they have undertaken a bad or wrong move. In the heat of the moment, it may seem a good idea to try to replicate them or make a gesture towards them, but it is unproductive. Stay grounded and level-headed.

Emotional intelligence: Often people get behind the wheel when there has been an argument in their life, and they may feel very down or frustrated. Then they have to turn their attention to driving, with the potential to put themselves, their passengers and other road users in danger. Always take a few moments to prepare for your journey at these times.

Music: This can be a good diversion from the stresses of the day. By playing some classical music or your favourite track, it can impact your mood for the better and enable you to counter stressful situations more readily. 

Dangers of eye contact: People who feel they have been wronged on the road may have the natural instinct to look at the driver in the other vehicle, but this is rarely a good idea. If a situation has the potential to escalate, making eye contact with the other driver is not a good idea.

Time: it is worthwhile allowing some ‘injury time’ in footballing terms for your journey, to ensure you are not racing against the clock to reach your chosen destination and meaning you won’t get as frustrated in a traffic hold-up.

Flexible thinking: No matter how good people are at driving for the majority of the time, mistakes happen. Don’t allow yourself to get swept away with anger if you see something has gone wrong on the road in front – stay focussed to know how to avoid danger and remain calm.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

SMIDSY theory: Bikes appear out of nowhere

A new theory about what causes Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You (or SMIDSY) crashes is that bikes can appear out of nowhere like planes and ships.

Rider safety exert Kevin Williams of British rider training company Survival Skills calls the phenomenon the “constant bearing, decreasing range” issue.

I have reported for several years on various theories that can lead to SMIDSY crashes.

You can check out some of the scientific studies into SMIDSY by clicking here.

The causes can be anything from drivers not bothering to look, seeing us but not caring because of the diminished threat, not seeing us because of “saccadic masking” (see video below), and plain stupidity.

If you want to know how to avoid these crashes, click here.

One of the suggestions we make is to weave around in your lane to attract the attention of other motorists.

Kevin agrees that this is important because a static rider is a small target that is difficult to see and whose speed is difficult to judge.

He says it’s like an approaching plane or ship on a constant bearing.

“The problem is that lack of lateral movement to attract our attention, and there’s a very specific form of motion camouflage that happens when two moving vehicles are on a collision course,” he says. 

He says the problem is known as the ‘Constant Bearing, Decreasing Range’ issue which is a term used in navigation and flying.

It means that some object, usually another ship viewed from the deck or bridge of one’s own ship or another aircraft viewed from the cockpit, is getting closer but staying at the same angle – or maintaining the same absolute bearing.

“If they both continue on the same course at the same speed, they WILL collide. And it CAN happen on the roads,” he says. 

“Just ask yourself where; for example, when you’re approaching a roundabout and another vehicle is on an intersecting course and will arrive at the same time, or when approaching a cross-roads and another vehicle is approaching head-on. 

“Since neither vehicle will appear to move relative to the background, it can be difficult for either driver/rider to perceive the other, even when in clear view.”

He says riders cannot rely on drivers predicting that there might be a bike they can’t see, so it is up to riders to attract the motorist’s attention by breaking the Constant Bearing problem.

“All we need to do is change position and speed and thus create some lateral movement,” he says.

“Hopefully the driver will now see us though a wise rider would still be prepared to take evasive action,” he says.

Riders should also identify anything that may block them from a motorist’s vision and move out from behind it so they can be seen;.

“That way we ‘uncloak’ our bike, and at least give the driver a chance of seeing us.”

It still doesn’t mean they won’t perceive a bike as a threat nor that they will misjudge our speed, so take care out there.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Helmet and bike gear ratings combined

The award-winning Australian MotoCAP website now includes helmet safety and comfort ratings as well as its usual ratings for jacket, pants and gloves.

The Australian NSW Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH) ratings previously published on crash.org.au, will now be located at MotoCAP.com.au so riders can get all their safety gear info in one place.

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

It is based on evidence from crash injury research and the test protocols of the current industry standard. It is an initiative of state automobile clubs and transport departments.

CRASH is a consortium of Transport for NSW, Transport Accident Commission and Insurance Australia Group.

It tests 30 helmets each year against a range of criteria, including protection and comfort before awarding a star rating out of five for each criteria.

While motoCAP is unique, CRASH is similar to the British SHARP helmet safety scheme which has tested and rated hundreds of helmets, almost all of which are available for sale in Australia.

You may ask why helmets are still being crash tested in Australia despite European-standard helmets being available here for several years.Motorcycle dealership sale accessories jeans helmets best motorcycle helmets

Centre for Road Safety active executive director Craig Moran says that while all helmets sold here meet either Australian Standards or global standard UNECE 22.05, CRASH ratings “give riders more information so they can chose the best helmet for their situation”.

By “more information” they mean ratings out of five for safety and comfort. The standards just say they passed the tests, but don’t provide ratings.

For example, a helmet only has to achieve the lowest one-star CRASH rating to pass Australian and Euro helmet certification.

AS/NZ 1698 and UNECE 22.05 certification make no mention at all of comfort which is important for reducing rider fatigue which can distract your attention.

Despite not having as many helmets tested as SHARP, having the CRASH safety ratings included on the one website is convenient for riders.

And if your helmet is not listed, then you can still go to the SHARP site.

This year’s CRASH results reveal only nine out of the 30 helmets tested achieved four out of five stars for crash protection safety. The new ratings can be found here.

Helmet still crash tested in Australia rotation
CRASH testing

Click here for more information about CRASH testing procedures.

I have previously researched helmet ratings from CRASH and SHARP to assess whether price correlates with safety.

We found some surprising results! Click here for the full story.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Rider airborne over damaged road

A Victorian rider who got airborne over a series of potholes, corrugations and ruts on a regional road says the damaged section could kill a rider and their pillion.

Rodney Brown has long campaigned over road repairs and in April last year reported a massive pothole on McGeorge Road, South Gisbourne. To his surprise, the report to Victorian Roads Minister Ben Carroll resulted in a quick fix.

He has again reported the new road problem to the Minister and is awaiting a reply. 

The incident occurred last weekend on a 100km/h stretch of Anakie-Ballan Road.

Rodney says the road has “two gigantic deep ruts, potholes, corrugations and uneven road surface longer than the length of a cricket pitch” taking up most of the lane width.

Rodney Brown Melbourne city
Rodney Brown

“It is a perfect cocktail to kill motorcycle riders and their pillion passengers, especially inexperienced riders, riding in the wet at night and on a scooter with wheels not much bigger than a car steering wheel,”he says.

Rodney says he and his motorcycle went airborne when they hit the damaged section of road. 

“I landed on the bike seat half on and half off, with my right leg coming down missing the foot peg, and my boot slightly scraping the road at 100km/h,” he says.

“My right leg then flew back into the saddlebag. Meanwhile my motorcycle landed back down on the road and veered over to the oncoming traffic lane before I was able to fully get control back. 

“I was very lucky on this occasion not to run into an oncoming vehicle or crash my bike.”

Road hazard on Anakie Road

The issue of damaged and poorly maintained roads is obviously not just relevant to Victoria, but all states and territories, particularly those where recent flooding has ruined many regional roads.

As repair teams grapple with extensive repairs following the floods, riders are advised to exercise caution in these areas.

Rodney says the design of motorcycles and scooters means they have unique dynamic stability characteristics that make them more “sensitive to changes in the shape, texture or skid resistance of the road surface, including the presence of water, potholes, ruts, poor road matching or debris on the road”.

He advises riders to report damaged roads to their local authority for the sake of their fellow riders.

A 2018 British Automobile Association survey found that riders are three times more likely to be involved in crashes caused by potholes and poor road surfaces than any other vehicle type.

It found that while potholes cause damage to cars, they are a greater injury threat to riders as they have to swerve to avoid potholes which can also cause crashes.

A World Health Organization Global status report on road safety 2018 found that the motorcycle road toll could be reduced by improving roads along with other issues such as better speed and alcohol/drug use enforcement, safer motorbikes and mandatory helmet laws.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Pants and gloves rated for safety

Australian motorcycle gear ratings authority MotoCAP has added six pairs of pants and nine pairs of gloves to its online ratings fr safety and comfort.

MotoCAP has now tested a total of 430 jackets, gloves and pants, with a recent adjustment to their testing regime that makes it tougher for manufacturers to score well.

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

The RST GT CE ladies leather pants performed very well, receiving five out of five stars for safety and four out of five for breathability.

RST GT CE ladies leather pants

Recently MotoCAP made changes to their glove-rating system based on new research on impact damage.

Deakin Uni Institute for Frontier Materials Senior Research Fellow and Honda GB400 rider Chris Hurren says the changes are the result of “ongoing tweaking of the system based on new research conducted by Deakin University”.

Chris says these changes mean that accurate ratings are assigned to gear based on the latest research and testing, allowing consumers to make informed decisions on their purchases and increasing their protection on our roads.

“Hand injuries have not previously had the level of scrutiny that the rest of the body has received by researchers worldwide,” Chris says. 

“They are just listed in most research as hand injuries regardless of the injury type.”

The original MotoCAP ratings were developed with the limited information at the time of the risks involved for the hand. 

Dr Liz de Rome and Chris have conducted research into this area to determine the injury risks to hands to fill the previous lack of information and provide the appropriate advice to riders. The glove ratings were revised accordingly. 

“The majority of gloves will have stayed the same or improved in rating however there may be a small number that have reduced in their protection scores,” Chris says.

MotoCAP testing

Dr Chris Hurren explains use of one of the uni’s testing machines ratings
Dr Chris Hurren with one of the uni’s testing machines

All gear tested and rated by MotoCAP is bought covertly.

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

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

Guide to making Victorian roads rider friendly

VicRoads has just launched an updated Making Roads Motorcycle Friendly guide targeted at road designers and road maintenance crew to address common issues that we motorcyclists encounter.

While we have been critical before of state governments, especially Victoria, for their lack of road maintenance with a particular view to keep safe for riders, this is a promising move.

It also addresses the issue of wire rope barriers which many riders view as dangerous to them.

The guide points out that “consideration of motorcyclist risk should be included when deciding on barrier type”.

However, it says that in places where wire rope barriers are used post protectors should be installed on “popular motorcycle routes, especially where the risk of post impact is high such as in curves”. 

While many riders might not like any wire rope barriers, at least this guide shows how engineers can make roads safer for us.

Now we just have to hope Victoria and other states put it into practice.

The development of the updated manual has been overseen by Australian road safety consultancy Safe System Solutions Pty Ltd which has also audited several thousand kilometres of road in Tasmania, Victoria, New Zealand and Western Australia for rider safety.

Safe System Solutions Research and Evaluations Lead and motorcyclist Dr Tana Tan says he hopes the guide will be used by road designers and road maintenance engineers right around Australia.

smidsy sorry mate crash
Aussie knowhow helps Thai riders stay safe Safe System Solutions Pty Ltd learn learner novice training licensed licensing
Dr Tana Tan

He says riders should make their local council’s road safety officer aware of the report which you can read by clicking here.

“We really want to spread the word far and wide on this guide as it tends to get buried under lots of other guides,” he says.

Dr Tan says auditing roads is one part of their three-point strategy to improve motorcycle safety.

The others are: training engineers, road designers and road maintenance crews on what constitutes a safe road for riders through their Making Roads Motorcycle Friendly and Road Maintenance for Motorcycle Safety Courses and their consulting, research and evaluation services for motorcycle safety.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Drivers educated on SMIDSY crashes

One of the most common motorcycle crashes is due to drivers not paying attention to them, according to British road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist.

The organisation is encouraging drivers to take extra care at junctions, in an attempt to reduce collisions with motorcyclists.

A spokesperson at GEM pointed out that  about six motorcyclists are killed and another 115 seriously injured every day in collisions every week in the UK (Government figures from 2020).

One of the most common contributory factors remains the observation error which some years ago picked up the nickname ‘SMIDSY’ (sorry mate, I didn’t see you),” he says.

“Experts point out that as drivers we’re not very good at identifying motorcyclists because they occupy such a small part of our field of vision. What’s more, if we’re not expecting to see one, then the chance of spotting one coming towards us is further reduced, and the risk of a collision is greatly increased.

“As Spring arrives and the weather improves, many roads will become busier with weekend riders, so let’s make a point of looking out for them. In doing so, we will be greatly reducing risk, and contributing to safer journeys for everyone.

“So before pulling out of junctions, look carefully all around. Make a specific check for motorcyclists coming towards you. They’re not always easy to spot – but if you’re expecting them to be there, then you’re far more likely to see them in good time… and prevent a potentially serious collision.”Dutch Reach could save lives SMIDSY

GEM’s research on SMIDSY is backed up by countless studies, including the 2017 US Motorcycle Crash Causation Study conducted in Orange Country, California.

One of the main findings was that a failure by the other vehicle driver involved is attributed to 51% of motorcycle crashes.

Of those crashes, 70% was attributed to “traffic scanning errors” by the other vehicle driver.

Riders might think drivers don’t care about hitting us, but there is actually scientific evidence that shows they really don’t see us.

Of course no driver wants to run into a motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian. After all, it would cause extensive and expensive damage to their vehicle!

The problem is that comparatively small road users tend to exist in drivers’ blind spots and they need to be made aware of this so that they look twice.

Check out some of the scientific studies into SMIDSY by clicking here.

If you want to know how to avoid these crashes, click here.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Most dangerous times to be on Australian roads

We hardly need research to tell us that weekends are the most dangerous time on Aussie roads — or any country for that matter — especially for motorcycles.

After all, more motorcycles are out on thew roads on weekends, for a start.

I’ve been reporting on crash statistics for several decades and the one constant is that the most dangerous times to be on the roads are from Friday afternoon until Sunday evening.

People have switched off from work and are using the roads for reaction and travelling greater distances, so there is more likelihood of a. crash.

There is also a greater abuse of alcohol and drugs in these times, according to Professor Max Cameron from Monash University’s Accident Research Centre.

So we don’t really need yet another survey to prove this theory of dangerous motoring times.

However, new data from Compare the Market not only confirms Saturdays as having the highest rates of car crashes resulting in deaths, but also shows some other interesting results.

For example, the most deadly season is Spring!

Yes, when then flowers start coming out and horse blow out birthday candles, it is more dangerous to be on the road.

August, November and the first month of summer, December, are the most lethal, according to the review of data from 1989 to 2021.  

Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q)’s Professor Teresa Senserrick says these spikes in road deaths match with school holidays. 

“This is why there is justification for double demerit points during those periods,” she says, even though Queensland is one state that does not have double demerit points.

Professor Cameron says a key characteristic of fatal accidents in holidays is that they usually involve higher speeds, which are more common in rural areas.

Night rider learner submission

Unsurprisingly, the survey also found that night rides, especially in remote or rural areas are more dangerous, especially for riders dodging kangaroos and other wildlife.

Also, the inferior quality of rural roads can be a contributing factor and deaths as a result of accidents can be higher because of the time it takes for emergency services to arrive on the scene.

Another interesting result is the effect of weather on crashes.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology notes that the northern and eastern coasts receive more rainy days from November to March, while the southern states see more wet weather in the winter months.  

“In some parts, rain is quite torrential, but when the rain first starts in Australia’s southern states, the roads often have a lot of dust on them,” Professor Cameron says. 

“Rain turns that dust to mud, which is very slippery. Heavy torrential rain quickly clears the mud away. 

“Motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians don’t tend to be on the roads during heavy rain so much, so there are fewer fatal crashes for these groups of road users, who are at a higher risk of dying in a crash compared to vehicle occupants.”

There has been a downward trend in all road fatalities over the past decade, including motorcycle fatalities. 

On average, motorcycle fatalities account for approximately 17% of road fatalities during this period. 

Motorcycle fatalities only accounted for 15.82% of all road casualties in 2011, while, at its peak, motorcycle casualties accounted for 19.27% of all deaths in 2016.

Year

Motorcycle fatalities

Australia wide (includes driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, pedal cyclist and unknown)

2010

224

1353

2011

202

1277

2012

223

1300

2013

213

1187

2014

191

1151

2015

Perth airport parking

203

1204

2016

249

1292

2017

211

1221

2018

191

1135

2019

211

1195

2020

188

1095

Source: National Road Safety Strategy, Road deaths by road user, [Accessed: 21 February 2022] 

So how does Australia stack up against others? Overall, Australia has a lower rate of road fatalities per 100,000 compared with countries like New Zealand, USA, UK, Italy, France, Germany, Norway, Canada and Ireland. 

Most countries have seen a year-on-year decrease for their annual road casualties, with Norway having the smallest number of casualties (just under 1 person per 100,000 people). 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com