Tag Archives: road safety

Riders help develop autonomous cars

One of the biggest problems with the development of autonomous cars is the detection of small and vulnerable motorcyclists in traffic.

So the San Francisco chapter of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club recently volunteered the services of seven members to help develop Aurora Driver technology.

They spent a day riding around with cars driven in manual mode by testers from Californian autonomous vehicle company Aurora.

Some of the unique situations tested were detecting riders who were lane splitting, which is only legal in California in the USA, and stopping in an offset position, rather than right in front of a car.

The bikes included four Harley-Davidsons, a KTM, an Indian and a Yamaha cruiser.

One of the biggest problems with the development of autonomous cars is the detection of small and vulnerable motorcyclists in traffic.
Volunteers (Images: Aurora)

Autonomous cars

Detecting motorcycles is a bit of a headache for autonomous cars development.

In one incident in San Francisco last year a lane filtering rider was hit by a Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle being driven in autonomous mode.

And police had the hide to blame the rider!

The Australian Motorcycle Council and other motorcycle representative groups around the world have called on authorities to slow down the testing and introduction of autonomous vehicles.

A motorcycle industry group in the USA called Give a Shift went so far as to say that “the single biggest threat to motorcycling overall (particularly in urban and higher density environments) will be the incompatibility between autonomous vehicles and existing motorcycles”.

However, motorcycle, car and tech companies such as Bosch are continuing to work together to develop systems that better identify and communicate with each other.

So while we still have grave concerns, it appears technology is starting to find solutions that just might make us safer.

In fact, BMW Motorrad spokesman Karl Viktor Schaller declares they will make riding safer because autonomous vehicles (AVs) will be virtually crashproof.

Tesla Autopolit

Electric car company Tesla has launched its Version 9 software update to Autopilot 2.0+ hardware that has a more advanced “neural net” to detect smaller and faster-moving objects around the vehicle.

That is supposed to include lane-filtering motorcycles.

However, Tesla Model 3 owner Scott Kubo shot this video to show the difficulties it has detecting motorcycles.

There are several examples of lane-splitting riders in LA travelling at much higher speeds than the 30km/h lane filtering maximum in Australia.

The system struggles at times to detect them both day and night.

Tesla detects lane filtering riders
Tesla detects lane filtering rider in video, but not on the sidescreen graphic.

In some cases it mistakes a bike for a car and in others the bike is in the next lane and passing right through cars!

Scott says drivers also use their ears to detect motorcycles and suggests an audio sensor to help the camera and radar sensors.

However, the bikes — including a couple of loud Harleys — are only audible for the last couple of seconds as they are coming from behind.

With the crackdown on exhaust noise and the coming wave of quiet electric motorcycles, an audio sensor would probably be pointless.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Should motorcycle rider age be lowered?

While some states want potential riders to first obtain a car licence before getting a bike licence, Germany has lowered its riding age from 16 to 15.

Riding age varies throughout the world with Kosovo allowing riders and drivers on the road from the age of 12!

Lower licence age?

While that might seem extreme, several countries have restricted licences for riders aged in their mid teens.

The notion is that if they can ride a bicycle on the road without a licence, why not let them ride a low-powered moped, scooter or motorcycle?

That way they would learn valuable road craft lessons before graduating to a higher-powered motorcycle or other vehicle.

The German move from 16 to 15 follows a six-year trial.

They argue that since it is legal to work from 15, young people should be allowed access to a vehicle to get to work, especially in rural communities with little or no public transport.

It would also help get millennials enthused about riding motorbikes!

Germany also plans to allow any person with a full car licence to ride a motorcycle that can travel no faster than 100km/h (62mph).

It is a little more generous than moped laws in Queensland and WA where car drivers can ride a bike up to 50cc without having to pass a special test.

Even the kids will get in on the free action at the Yamaha display

Car licence first?

Australians and New Zealanders can get a motorcycle learner’s licence from the age of 16 (15 years 9 months in the ACT), except Queensland where you need a car licence for a year first.

South Australia is considering a licensing review that recommends lifting the ages for learner riders from 16 to 18 and full-licensed riders from 20 to 21.5.

While Queensland requires learner riders to first hold a provisional, P1, P2 or open car licence for a year, South Australia also suggests that riders must have a learner plate for a year.

It runs contrary to practices in some countries where 15-year-olds can first ride a two-wheeler up to 50cc before getting a car or motorcycle licence.

Moped and restricted motorcycle licence ages in Europe are: 14 in Latvia and Estonia; 15 in France, Czech Republic, Spain; and 16 in Portugal, Romania.

Licence age in most of Europe is 17 or 18 years.

In the USA, South Dakota allows 14-year-olds to get a learner’s permit and their full licence six months later. However, there are restrictions on engine sizes.

In most American states 15-year-olds can get a learner’s permit, a restricted licence at 16 and six months to a year later they can get a licence.

Iowa and Kansas allow 14-year-olds to get a learner’s permit but they have a two-year wait to get a restricted licence.

Mopeds don’t require a licence in the USA.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Free motorcycle first-aid course offered

If you come across a rider down, have you done a first-aid course so you know how to apply relevant emergency aid?

There are various motorcycle-specific first-aid courses offered around the country, but Tweed Heads Council is offering a first-aid workshop for free next weekend (Saturday 23 November 2019) at the Pottsville Beach Community Hall.

Not only is it free, but participants will receive a Towards Zero tool kit, neck warmer, wiping cloth and reusable coffee cup. Afternoon tea during the four-hour course will also be provided.

You don’t have to be a Tweed resident as all riders who ride the area’s beautiful roads are welcome. Bookings are essential as they only have room for 40 riders. You can book by emailing Alana Brooks abrooks@tweed.nsw.gov.au.

The Gold Coast hinterland has a heap of attractions for riders including winding roads, a Red Rattler with an Iron and Resin finish, writes local rider and MBW contributor Todd Parkes.
Tweed roads are popular with riders

Tailored course

Alana says the workshop is provided by Pulse Start Training Solutions.

“The trainers are all keen riders with a combined riding and instructing experience of more than 60 years, as well as professional job experience as paramedics,” she says.

“Pulse Start Training Solutions has tailored its motorcycle first-aid course for Tweed Shire Council so we can offer the workshop to more riders free of charge through our Local Government Road Safety Program.”

The usual cost of the full course is $140.

This workshop is non-accredited and only covers first-aid for motorcycle crashes.

“More than 180 riders have participated in the various motorcycle safety workshops we have offered over the past three years,” Alana says.

“For this workshop, we can take up to 40 riders each session. Pulse Start has four trainers delivering the course.

“There is no riding component but the first-aid course is very hands-on with helmet removal training, CPR practice dummies and crash scene management scenarios.”

The workshop also gives participants advice on the latest safety gear and safe riding practices.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

D30 Ghost armour protects and comforts

Motorcycle clothing armour can be stiff, hot and make your gear tight, but new, thin Ghost limb protection armour from D30 is expected to cage all that.

The CE-approved armour was unveiled by motorcycle clothing companies Furygan and Richa at the recent EICMA motorcycle show in Milan.

D30 brand manager Blanche Maass says their protectors will be “integrated by D3O brand partners starting (northern hemisphere) Spring ’20 as part of their collections”.

Problems with traditional armour

Traditional armour is often stiff and creates sweaty patches on your body.

Some riders I know hate it so much they even pull it out of their gear.

In fact, many manufacturers don’t supply armour, just the pockets where it can be placed.

However, this D30 armour could change all that.D30 Ghost armour protects and comforts

GM Mostyn Thomas says their Ghost range is the “most lightweight and flexible armour” they make.

“When you’re riding we know that comfort and flexibility is of the utmost importance,” he says.

“You want to ride with freedom and confidence – knowing that you’re protected without being inhibited by armour.

“The D3O Ghost range allows for just that – world-class impact protection, coupled with superior comfort.”

How it is madeD30 Ghost armour protects and comforts

It is produced using Impact Print technology, a new process for imprinting D3O material directly on to fabrics and substrates.

D3O Ghost limb protectors are printed on to a lightweight black lycra fabric so it is ultra-flexible.

They say their knee/elbow and shoulder/hip protectors are designed for use as “fit and forget armour”.

So, instead of pockets to put the armour in, it is already part of the article of clothing.D30 Ghost armour protects and comforts

A safety feature of this would be that it doesn’t shift out of position in a slide.

D30 also claim it is breathable so it is comfortable even on a hot day.

There are no technical details on weight or thickness, but it looks pretty light and thin.D30 Ghost armour protects and comforts

D30 is a design and technology company with offices in the UK, US and China.

They have partnered with brands such as 3M, ZAGG, Schutt Sports, Under Armour, Furygan and Richa.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Rider Skills: How to Improve Your Overtaking

Contributed post on How to improve your overtaking (for our North American readers)

Risk-taking has been singled out as the factor behind around 50% of fatal motorcycle accidents and approximately 28% of non-fatal motorcycle crashes, according to research done by the Queensland University of Technology. Overtaking without due care and attention is a risky manoeuvre that poses a danger to you and other road users. 

If you want to enjoy your ride and maximise the freedom, flexibility, and health benefits that come with motorcycling, you need to adopt a safer overtaking technique. If precautions aren’t taken, even a simple mistake can lead to a serious crash. Here are some essential tips to help you overtake safely while riding a motorcycle.

Learn the Common Overtaking Mistakes

Roads are full of hazards, and making an error can dramatically increase your chances of being involved in a collision. Although motorcycles can pass other vehicles quickly due to their accelerating capabilities, you need to know when and where to pass another vehicle or rider. One of the common mistakes most motorcyclists do is overtaking without observing traffic regulations. Certain sections of the road are illegal to overtake, therefore, you need to ensure you are not breaking the rules.

Look out for road signs, solid double white lines, or other lines that prohibit overtaking. Lane splitting in a state where it’s prohibited can also endanger you and bring you legal trouble. A motorcycle accident that involves lane splitting can easily occur when another vehicle suddenly changes lanes and strikes a motorcyclist. Therefore, you need to know whether your state forbids it. Also, avoid overtaking when a junction is up ahead, when approaching a bend, and when the road ahead narrows.

Overtaking Routine

To execute the manoeuvre as safe as possible, you need to adopt a routine. First, you need to position yourself in the right place. Maintain a sizeable distance between you and the vehicle ahead – the bigger the distance, the better the view of oncoming traffic. After you are in a good position, examine the car that you intend to pass and observe whether it’s about to take any action. 

Check whether the car is indicating, slowing down or accelerating. If there is no hint of that, look at the road ahead, and keep track of oncoming cars. Once you determine it’s safe, and you decide to pass, judge the speed of the vehicle in front of you, indicate, and start to accelerate while you are still far behind the vehicle. During this run-up, find the right speed to pass the car without causing the other driver to panic. A run-up minimises the time you spend on the lane for opposing traffic. 

Overtaking Large Vehicles

Trucks, buses, and other large vehicles can cause difficulties for riders trying to overtake. They can obstruct your view of oncoming traffic, and the large vehicle’s driver may fail to see you. First, attempt to make the driver of the large vehicle notice you by positioning yourself where they will see you in their mirrors. Ensure you keep a safe distance and avoid staying in the large vehicle’s blind spot.

Trucks reversed image lane filtering blind spot
All the bikes in this photo are in a truck’s blind spots

Keep in mind that if you can’t see the mirrors of the car ahead, that driver can’t see you. If the truck or coach has obscured your view, you can carefully move to the left or right of your lane to try and find the best view, while maintaining no-less than a two-second following distance. Once you determine the road is clear, signal early, evaluate the speed of the truck, check your mirrors, and then make your manoeuvre. 

Summary 

A proper overtaking technique can help you steer clear of many dangerous situations. Remember that even if it’s legal, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe to overtake. Always try to make yourself visible, keep an eye on the vehicles in front and behind you, and monitor the road ahead.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Furygan airbag vest zips inside jacket

Furygan is the latest company to add an airbag vest that goes inside your jacket and can be easily reset at home after being triggered.

Most airbag suits and jackets include the airbag and some airbag vests go over the top, while others go inside.

We weren’t sure how an airbag exploding under your jacket in a crash would work if the jacket is tight!

However, the French motorcycle clothing brand says the vest will work just fine if you zip out the thermal layer.

It is compatible with most jackets as well as the 2019 and 2020 Furygan jackets with the airbag connect logo.

Their jackets feature an additional inner zip allowing users to zip the Fury Airbag into position in less than 15 seconds.

Furygan says the advantage is that the vest is comfortable, fits all sizes and is invisible from the outside.

It also uses 3D breathable mesh technology to create a “thermal bridge” between the outside temperature and the body.

The breathable material also stretches to provide extra comfort.

How it worksFurygan airbag vest

The vest includes an In&Motion “brain” that measures the position of the user 1000 times per second and works with an algorithm that improves as it receives more data.

If the algorithm believes you are in an accident, it deploys and the bag is inflated immediately in just 60 milliseconds.

Designed to protect the neck, back, chest and abdomen areas, the Fury Airbag protects areas often left vulnerable in the event of a crash or impact.

The airbag stays inflated to prevent any resulting injury and to protect the user from any further injuries after the accident.Furygan airbag vest

The system – which takes three hours to fully charge – offers up to 25 hours of active riding and 15 days on auto-standby mode.

Once connected with Wifi or mobile data it will automatically look for software updates.

Furygan spokesman David Robert says it has different modes for road and track.

“Putting it into perspective, braking on a MotoGP bike from the long straight at Mugello causes the same force and level of deceleration as a scooter hitting a car at 50km/h, so it’s important to tell the computer what it should expect as ‘normal’,” he says.

The inflation module is housed above the vest’s CE-approved back protector for extra protection and to ensure the inflator doesn’t cause injury. Furygan airbag vest

Furygan cost

The Fury Airbag vest with the In&Motion ‘brain’ is available online and is not cheap at about $A715, while the airbag inflator costs an extra $A170.

That compares with the Dainese airbag vest at $A699 and the Helite airbag outer vest at $825.

It can be reset by removing the discharged inflator unit in the back protector and replacing it with a new one.

The free In&Motion App has a handy video guide and there is no need to send off the vest to be reset by Furygan.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Satnav app adds traffic light countdown

A satellite navigation app that has a countdown to how long a traffic light will change has been recognised as a CES 2020 Innovation Awards honoree.

The Slovakian Sygic navigation app used by more than 200 million drivers globally has a new and free Traffic Lights countdown add-on.

It is only working in the US at the moment with plans to be introduced in Europe in 2020. There is no scheduled release time yet for Australia.

How the countdown worksRed-light traffic light

The Traffic Lights countdown add-on does not trigger a green light.

That’s a particular issue with riders whose motorcycles may not be large enough to be detected by the induction loop cut into the pavement. Click here to read more about triggering green lights.

Instead, the Sygic add-on displays a green or red light countdown timer at each traffic light.

They claim it will encourage motorists to slow down, increasing safety at intersections, reducing CO2 emissions and improve traffic flow.

Sygic CEO Martin Strigac says their artificial intelligence add-on “will have a major impact on safety and the time of arrival”.

“The kit will be continuously upgraded with additional assistance features, including detection of speed-limit signs, lanes, and obstacles on the road, and collision detection,” he says.

“We are also exploring the idea of integrating it with rail-crossing warning systems.”

CommentsTraffic Lights

Two out of every three motorcycle accidents (66.7%) occur at intersections and motorists running red lights is one of the major causes of those crashes.

Anything that can reduce that would be welcome.

However, we are unsure if a countdown feature for a green light to turn red might actually encourage motorists to speed up to catch the light.

Also, a countdown to a red light turning green might encourage motorists to jump the lights.

We are also concerned that drivers who already don’t look for motorcyclists might be more intent on watching their satnav traffic light countdown feature than scanning the road for riders.

Technology is great when it is proven to increase safety, but the jury is still out on this, as far as we are concerned.

Meanwhile, the CES 2020 Innovation jury of 82 technology experts says the Sygic GPS Navigation’s Traffic Lights add-on “showcased innovative features that scored highly across the evaluation criteria and joins a special group of other products given this honour.” 

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Concern over truck flip on wire rope barriers

Concern for the safety of all motorists, including motorcyclists, has been expressed in the wake of a fatal truck flip over wire rope barriers near Melbourne this morning (4 November 2019).

The truck hit the wire rope barriers (WRBs) on the Princes Freeway at Werribee South about 3.20am, flipped over and landed on its roof, killing the driver.

Truck wire rope barriers WRBs
(Above two images courtesy Seven Network)

One year ago a Bad Roads Rally in Melbourne called for the immediate halt to the rollout of WRBs.

Other states are also adding more WRBs, including NSW where they are being installed on the Pacific Highway at Chinderah in the far north of the state. The work is expected to be completed in about five weeks with traffic reduced to one lane.

wire rope barriers WRBs
New wire rope barriers at Chinderah

Runoff, not barriers

University of Melbourne Chair of Statistics and bike rider Prof Richard Huggins says “motorcycle safety requires runoff areas rather than barriers”.

“If there must be barriers, it must be demonstrated that in the event of a crash they are less injurious to riders than if there were no barriers,” he says.

The professor points out that European research found that the rider was still  upright on impact in half of all crashes and was thrown over the barrier.

“After this morning’s crash it seems trucks and other large vehicles flipping over the barriers is similarly not considered,” he says.”

wire rope barriers WRBs
Installing WRBs

The Australian Motorcycle Council believes that any safety barrier construction in Australia should be “of a standard and a fit to cause the least injury to a rider or pillion than if there were no barrier”.  

“WRBs have been shown to be more dangerous to riders than other types of barrier and are less likely to meet this criteria,” they say.

In the AMC position statement, they say there is not enough research into the effect of WRBs and they refute authorities’ claims that WRBs are cheaper.

“A Swedish research paper has studied the ‘whole of life’ costs of barriers and found that wire rope barrier is the most expensive, probably due to it having to repaired after minor impacts,” they claim.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

MotoCAP now rates 150 jackets, gloves, pants

MotoCAP has rated six more jackets to reach 150 safety and thermal comfort ratings for jackets, pants and gloves, including only their second women’s jacket.

The world’s first safety and comfort ratings system for motorcycle clothing began in August last year.

It has now rated 150 items of clothing, including 41 pairs of pants, 47 pairs of gloves and now 62 jackets, including their second women’s jacket.

While some claim the ratings system is flawed, it at least now has a decent amount of clothing rated and provides a guide for buyers.

Women’s jackets

The first women’s jacket was the Dainese Mike Lady jacket which only joined the list last August.

It scored a protection rating of three out of five stars while this round the women’s Macna Freeride textile jacket scored only one star.

However, it rated three out of five stars for thermal comfort.Jackets women's Macna Freeride

Click here for the full list of 150 motorcycle jackets, pants and glove ratings.

Transport for NSW says there has been “interest from some manufacturers to have their items rated”.

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

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

  • 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), Western Australian Police: Road Safety Commission, Department of State Growth, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Australian Motorcycle Council and Accident Compensation Corporation in New Zealand.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Learners cop demerit over hi-vis vests

Learner riders in Victoria will cop one demerit point for not wearing a hi-vis vest from tomorrow (29 October 2019) under new road rules.

The Victorian Motorcycle Council had called to remove mandatory hi-vis vests for learner riders in its 10-page submission to the review of Victorian Road Safety (Driver) Regulations.

However, it has been ignored.

Learner riders had previously only been fined for the offence.

Now they cop a demerit point for not wearing an approved hi-vis vest or jacket.

They will also now get three demerit points for riding without a “supervising driver (sic) sitting on  the seat beside (sic) them” and one demerit point for not displaying an L plate.

Vest of shame

Ipswich Bike Nights John Eacott support sentence Returned riders safety risk is a furphy time limit
John Eacott chooses to wear high-visibility gear but says it should not be compulsory

VMC media spokesman John Eacott says the rider learner permit changes are “unwarranted” and not a safety issue.

“The application of a requirement to have the Vest of Shame (aka the hi-vis safety vest) ‘securely fastened’ becomes a safety issue on hot days as it leads to heat stress and reduced rider competence,” he says.  

“This was highlighted shortly before the RIS when the Minister for Roads and Road Safety was shown the testing procedures at Deakin University of garments for MotoCAP.

“It is bizarre to have a requirement for a hi-vis vest for Learners and then demand it be worn in a manner to reduce rider efficiency. This was brought to the attention of the Department of Transport, but appears to have been ignored and not even mentioned in the summary of responses.”

We asked the Department of Transport for the number fines issued since the rule applied in 2014 and what consituted an approved vest/jacket.

No reply has yet been received but we will update if/when they do.

L plate demerit pointLearn learner novice Ride to Review plate demerit

The VMC also claim the L plate demerit point is unfair as a plate can easily fall off a motorcycle resulting in a rider losing their licence and their only mode of transport.

“There is no road safety risk or road user behaviour targeted by the sanction, therefore no genuine road safety objective served,” their submissions says.

“A motorcycle is an arduous exposed environment, experiencing vibration, winds, rain, road grime/fumes and sunlight/UV exposure.

“L plates are typically plastic, embrittle with time and are not very resilient to these exposed service conditions.

“As a result, an L-plate may fall off during a ride without the knowledge of the rider since plates are affixed to the rear of the motorcycle.”

Hi-vis mandated

The learner hi-vis rule was introduced in 2014 despite the state government’s road safety committee citing a European road safety research that found the benefits of wearing a high-visibility vest depended on the time of day and location.

Since its introduction, there has been no study into its effect on crashes among learners and the Traffic Accident Commission does not differentiate learner riders in its statistics. 

South Australia is now proposing hi-vis vests for learner riders as well as a night curfew and higher ages for learner permits.

We could not find any similar hi-vis rules throughout the world except France where all riders must have a minimum fluoro requirement on their jackets.

All riders (and drivers) in France must also carry a hi-vis vest and wear it if broken down on the side of the roads.

Most motorcycle police around the world wear hi-vis gear.

Victoria Solo Unit motorcycle police uniforms remove demerit
Victoria Solo Unit motorcycle police uniforms

However, it didn’t stop this British copper from nearly being hit by a van driver who just didn’t look even though the police officer had hi-vis gear, flashing lights and sirens.

Contrary evidence

University of Melbourne Chair of Statistics and bike rider Prof Richard Huggins has called to remove the rule since it was introduced.

The Prof has reviewed several international studies on motorcycle conspicuity and “look but fail to see” accidents and says there is “sufficient doubt” of the effectiveness of hi-vis to call for a repeal of the mandatory requirement.

He says the studies had varied findings suggesting:

  • Dark clothing is more visible in certain lighting situations;
  • Hi-vis rider gear may be less visible in certain conditions; and
  • Hi-vis clothing could create a “target fixation” for motorists, causing them to steer toward the wearer.

Richard also says he regularly wears a hi-visibility jacket when riding, but has still been hit by a car.

“The driver claimed they didn’t see me, from a distance of less than 2m, as they changed lanes on top of me,” he says.

When the law was introduced, the VMC cited Prof Huggins’s research and objected to the rule on several grounds:

  • Wearing hi-vis clothing may impart a false sense of security for novice riders;
  • Modern research shows that people don’t recognise or react to motorcycles, rather than not seeing them at all;
  • Drivers are more likely to see a bike but make an error in timing;
  • All bikes have hard-wired headlights yet no research has been done on how this affects hi-visibility; and
  • If hi-vis is a real safety issue, why are there no greater penalties for drivers who crash into people wearing them?

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com