Tag Archives: speed

Speed enforcement causes herd mentality

Years of rigid speed enforcement have created a herd mentality that could be just as dangerous as having high-speed lunatics in our midst.

Over the past 20 years, traffic in our nation has been beaten into submission by the heavy handed use of speed cameras and police patrols.

The road safety rhetoric has changed from the dangers of hooning to the dangers of even being 1km/h over the limit.

The latest Queensland Transport road safety campaign is about driving “smarter” not faster.

It says that “half of all speeding crashes happen at just 1 to 10km/h over the limit”.

Of course most accidents happen at that speed, because most people now drive within 10km/h of the speed limit!

Herd mentalityHow to ride safely in heavy traffic lane filtering herd

With everyone driving within 10km/h of each other, it takes vehicles ages to pass slower traffic.

We also have a breed of arrogant motorists who think it is ok to hog the right lane because they are doing the maximum legal speed.

Consequently, our highways and major multi-lane roads have a constant herd of motorists travelling in all lanes at roughly the same, legal speed.

But has it created an even and orderly flow of traffic that delivers motorists safely to their destination?

No.

The road toll is still too high, traffic snarls are getting worse while road rage and motorist frustration levels are through the roof (if you have one!).

Riders at most danger

How to ride safely in heavy traffic lane filtering peeved commuters lip automatic brakes
Brisbane traffic

While motorcyclists can now avoid some of the snarls and frustration by legally lane filtering, they are also the most vulnerable vehicles in this deadly mix.

Hemmed in by motorists who won’t move over, motorcyclists are in danger of becoming invisible in the traffic.

Clearly the continuing road safety strategy of greater adherence to strict speed limits and frequently changing speed zones is not working.

These strategies only serve to force us to gaze at our speedos instead of the road which means drivers can easily miss a motorcyclist darting through the traffic.

Lane discipline

One effective safety strategy is more lane discipline on multi-lanes roads as practised in Europe.

Why don’t police patrol for drivers illegally hogging the right lane?

And why aren’t trucks (vans, caravans, etc) restricted to the “slow” lane as they do in Europe?

The answer: Because it is easier to deploy speed cameras which generate millions in revenue.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Lower speeds at regional intersections

A plan to temporarily lower speed limits on regional highway intersections when approaching side-road traffic is detected may not work for motorcycles.

The technology has been initially installed at the intersection of Glenelg Highway and Dunkeld-Cavendish Road and Penshurst-Dunkeld Road, near Dunkeld, Victoria, and will be rolled out across the state.

Watch this video to see how it works.

The problem for riders is that it uses the same inductor loop technology deployed at traffic lights that often fails to detect small motorcycles.

Click here to read how to improve your chances of detection by these loops.

Lower regional speeds

The new technology follows a recent call to reduce speed limits on unsealed country roads.

VicRoads says this new side-road-activated speed technology will trigger an electronic speed sign to lower the speed from 100km/h to 70km/h on the Glenelg Highway.

“There are no plans to install speed cameras through the side-road-activated reduced speed zones,” VicRoads told us.

However, we expect there may be extra policing at these intersections to enforce compliance.

The electronic speed limit sign will also be activated by vehicles waiting to turn right from Glenelg Highway on to either Dunkeld-Cavendish Road or Penshurst-Dunkeld Road.

Lower speed limits on rural intersections
Glenelg Highway image shows Dunkeld-Cavendish Road on the left and Penshurst-Dunkeld Road on the right (Google Maps).

“The reduced speed limit will stay activated until there are no more vehicles on the side roads waiting to enter or cross the main road,” VicRoads says.

VicRoads is also installing short lengths of “flexible steel guard fence” in front of the new electronic signs to reduce the risk of motorists crashing into them.

Local rider Anthony Morrison says he is concerned about the new technology.

“My concern naturally as a rider coming along a 100km/h zone and suddenly presented with a 70 speed sign with a car behind me is scary just like the 40 with flashing lights,” he says.

Click here for more on the 40km/h emergency vehicle rule.

History of crashes

VicRoads says 70% of fatal intersection crashes in regional Victoria occur on high-speed roads.

“Intersections in regional areas have a greater risk due to higher travel speeds, particularly where small side roads meet main roads,” VicRoads says.

“This intersection near Dunkeld has seen two crashes in the past five years, with one resulting in serious injuries.”

VicRoads claims the benefits of side-road-activated speeds are:

  • Instructing drivers on the main road to slow down if there are other vehicles approaching from side roads;
  • giving drivers on the main road more time to react if side traffic fails to give way;
  • giving drivers on side roads more time to assess gaps in traffic and enter the main road safely;
  • letting drivers know they’re approaching an intersection, which will prepare them for any merging traffic; and 
  • significantly reducing the severity of crashes due to the reduced speed limit when traffic is merging from side roads.

“A similar program in New Zealand has reduced serious and fatal crashes at intersections by 89% since 2012,” VicRoads says.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Double demerit points endanger licence

Riders are warned they could have their licence suspended in one hit under double demerit points which apply this weekend in NSW for the Queen’s Birthday (June 8-10, 2019).

It follows a hefty 14 demerit points and $1200 fine handed out to a Harley-Davidson rider over the Western Australia Day long weekend (June 1-3, 2019).

Traffic Enforcement Group officers tweeted the above photo of the fine after nabbing the rider at more than 120km/h in an 80km/h zone in Ravenswood.

Police noted on the fine that the rider told them: “She (his bike) was flooding and gurgling; just gave it a blat”.

His licence will be suspended for three months.

Double points danger

Double demerits apply in certain holidays in NSW, the ACT and WA.

Riders from Victoria, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia passing through NSW, ACT or WA during a declared holiday period do not cop the double demerits.

Police cops speed speeding sensation annual demerit

However, Queensland riders should note that in certain circumstances they do apply.

The law in Queensland is that double points do apply to speeding offences of 21km/h or greater over the speed limit and seatbelt offences if they occur more than once within a 12 month period.

Lawyer Stephen Hayles of Macrossan and Amiet Solicitors says he has been asked by clients about the system after copping a fine in an applicable state.

“For example if you commit two speeding offences of driving 21km/h over the speed limit in a 12 month period, you will be allocated four demerit points for the first offence and four demerit points for the second offence plus an additional four demerit points,” he says.

“This means that you will have accumulated 12 demerit points within a 12 month period and you risk having your licence suspended.”

How demerit points are recorded

NSW police blitz demerit

Double points apply in NSW and ACT over the Australia Day weekend, Easter, Anzac Day, Queen’s Birthday, Labour Day and Christmas/New Year (from December 21 2018).

In WA, the double points apply on Australia Day (unless it falls on a week day), Labour Day, Easter, Anzac Day (unless it falls on a week day), Western Australia Day, Queen’s Birthday, and Christmas/New Year.

If a rider in another state commits a traffic offence in a state during a double-demerit period, the offence is recorded as a double demerit offence on their traffic history in the state where the offence happened.

The state licensing authority will then report the offence to the transport department in your state who will record the offence on your traffic history.

However, the double points will only apply in Queensland under the circumstances described above.

Choice of penalty

Stephen says that if you have committed a traffic offence recently and you receive a Queensland Transport notice that you have accumulated your allowed demerits, you will have a choice of a good driving behaviour period or a licence suspension for a period.

“When considering whether to agree to a good behaviour driving behaviour period and a licence suspension, it is important that a licence holder understands that accepting a suspension of their licence may preclude them from making an Application for a Special Hardship Order or an Application for a Restricted (Work) Licence for the next five years,” he warns.

If you are unsure about how many demerit points you have, you can search your record online at your state’s transport department website or call them and request a copy of your traffic history.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Call to lower country road speeds to 80km/h

A major road safety summit has suggested speed limits on Australia’s unsealed country road network be reduced from 100km/h to 80km/h.

The suggestion came at a Victorian Road Trauma Summit convened last week, but has been a hobby horse of Victorian Assistant Police Commissioner Doug Fryer for several years as this 2017 video shows.

The summit was told C roads (minor unsealed roads) have the highest number of fatalities.

It is reported there was general agreement that lowering the speed limit on many country roads was the solution to reducing the road toll in regional areas.

However, it must be in partnership with regional communities so they understand the long-term view.

The state government’s summit included 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.

Other suggestions at the summit included:

Country road limitScrambler Ducati Desert Sled country road

The proposal to reduce speed limits on tens of thousands of kilometres of country road follows a 2018 report by the International Transport Forum that studied data from 10 countries including Australia.

It suggested any country road without a median barrier should have a 70km/h speed limit.

The report found that crashes, injuries and fatalities decreased when speed limits were dropped and speed camera use increased.

According to a scientific formula, it showed that every 1% increase in average speed resulted in a 2% increase in all injury crashes, a 3% rise in fatal and severe crashes and 4% more fatal crashes. 

It not only recommended the 70km/h rural roads speed limit, but also 30km/h in city streets with high pedestrian use and 50km/h on urban roads.

Their recommended speed limits are based on the “Safe System” principles that speed should be set “at a level that humans can survive without dramatic consequences in case of a crash”.

The report also noted that “lower driving speeds generally improve citizens’ quality of life, especially in urban areas”. They also reduce emissions, fuel consumption and noise, it said.

Reducing speed limits on rural roads to 70km/h may be understandable in some densely populated countries.

But in our sprawling nation, it would bring our transport system and our economy to a halt.

It may also sound the death knell for motorcycling as many riders concerned about the heavy use of speed cameras have sold their sports bikes and bought adventure bikes to explore the more remote country road network.

Australian case studyMCCNSW Steve Pearce submission to Ombudsman over Oxley highway speed rural

The Australian case study was based on data from 1997 to 2003 where urban speed limits dropped from 60km/h to 50km/h (except in the Northern Territory) and speed camera use increased.

It found that the mean speed decreased by 0.5km/h, while the total number of crashes decreased by 25.3% and the number of persons injured by 22.3%.

There were differences between states:

  • NSW mean speed reduction of 0.5-0.9km/h resulted in a 22% casualty crash reduction;
  • Victoria 2-3km/h reduction resulted in a 12% reduction;
  • Perth 0.3km/h led t a 21% drop;
  • Regional Western Australia 3km/h – 16%;
  • South Australia: 3.8km/h and 2.1km/h drop on unchanged arterials ed to a 23% crash drop; and
  • Queensland there was no relevant crash data for the 6km/h mean speed drop.

The study also found that the reductions in the proportions of vehicles exceeding 60, 70 and 80km/h speed limits were more substantial than the reduction in mean speed.

It accredited this to strong enforcement of urban speed limit reductions.

Covert camerasKiwi fixed speed camera satellite rural

The study also suggested that covert speed cameras were most effective in cash reduction, based mainly on statistics from Victoria which leads the country in speed camera revenue:

Looking at severe crashes, the covert use of mobile speed cameras in Victoria, Australia, has been shown to be very effective in reducing injury crashes and fatal outcomes (Cameron and Delaney, 2008). Recent research has also shown that only 7% of injury crashes in Melbourne are now attributable to high-level speeding, compared with 24-34% in other Australian major cities where mobile cameras are operated less effectively (Cameron, 2015).

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Inside the Stalker X-Series XLR Lidar Gun

Stalker has been building speed-detection devices for 30 years, helping law enforcement bring the hammer down on those of us with a heavy right wrist with its long line of portable radar and lidar machines. This is its latest creation: the X-Series XLR Lidar.

“It’s the worst thing invented for the happy motorist, especially this new one,” says Wayne Dixon, a deputy with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “I’ve gotten this one out to 3,800 feet.”

At that distance, Stalker says the XLR is accurate to within 1 mph, and it can pick up a target in less than half a second.

“It’s traveling at the speed of light, 186,282 miles per second. By the time I pull this trigger, it’s already gone and come back.”


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That’s why lidar is so effective for officers, and so frustrating for riders with radar or lidar detectors. There’s no hoping that you have time to slow down when you see the squad car. If the cop can see you, he knows how fast you’re going.

And with machines like the XLR, lidar is more prevalent than ever. The gun weighs just 2.3 pounds with the battery in place, and unlike previous iterations that had to rely on a suitcase full of AA batteries or an obnoxious cigarette-lighter plug, the XLR uses lithium-ion cells that can power the gun for two full shifts and endure up to 500 charges before needing to be replaced. Oh, and it can track targets through obstructions such as leaves, bushes, or fences.

Source: MotorCyclistOnline.com

Blind rider has ‘2020 vision’ for 300km/h

The world’s fastest blind rider, Ben Felten, plans to return to Lake Gairdner in 2020 to raise the bar over 300km/h.

Team Blind Speed Kawasaki took their 2018 Kawasaki ZX-10R to the South Australian salt flats recently to beat his own world record of 272.596km/h set in 2018.

While he repeatedly raced within 5km/h of his record, he says they still have “pace up our sleeves”.

Watch this video and see what it’s like to ride at nearly 300km/h!

Foiled by weather

The Aussie was foiled by extreme heat, high winds and showers, but now ironically claims “300 plus is firmly in our sights”.

“The Ninja went like an arrow,” he says.

“There is so much left in it.”

“In rubbish conditions we exceeded every expectation I had for 2019.

“To the challengers heading Down Under next year, good luck. We’re going to be a lot faster.”

Click here to send a message of support to Ben’s Facebook page.

Blind rider

Blind rider Ben Felten 2018
Ben and his dog Oscar

At 15, Ben crashed his bike into a tree and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative eye condition.

He continued to race motorcycles until he was 24 and went totally blind at 37.

But that didn’t stop him dreaming and riding.

He set an Australian record for a blind rider in 2014 with 219.96km/h (136.67mph) on his modified Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa at Temora Airport.

In 2017, he went within 14km/h of the world record when he rode a Yamaha R1 to 251.46km/h (156.25mph) at Lake Gairdner.

He smashed the world record last year by more than 20km/h.

Magoo leading the blind

Blind rider Ben Felten 2018
Ben and “Magoo”

Ben races his Kawasaki with the aid of his guide, former GP racer Kevin Magee, whose nickname is Magoo, the almost-blind cartoon character!

Magoo guides Ben via radio contact to help him steer his Kawasaki ZX-10R on the salt lake.

“The way I turn incrementally at high speeds is by putting pressure on the foot pegs,” Ben says.

“At the finish line and in the pits I navigate with Magoo’s guidance and people are amazed at our level of control.”

This year Ben and Magoo worked out kinks in their navigation strategy as they shook the bikes down.

They are now preparing for the 2020 event which marks the 30th anniversary of Speed Week and dry lake racing in Australia.

(Main image from Claudine Burgess – Define and Shine)

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

No safety in numbers for speeding riders

Riders who believe there is safety in numbers may be in for a shock when the whole group is pulled over by police and fined for speeding.

The issue was brought to our attention when three of a group of four Brisbane riders were recently pulled over and fined for speeding.

One of the riders decided to challenge the fine because he believed he was not doing the same speed as the others.

His lawyer advised hima group of motorcyclist travelling together can be reasonably considered as all travelling at the same speed, therefore the police only need to confirm one was speeding to be able to apply the same ticket to the rest of the group”.

The rider’s challenge was unsuccessful in Magistrates Court this week.

Queensland Police officer Senior Constable John Wilkins used an in-car radar to record the speed of three of the riders as they approached in the opposite direction to which he was travelling. He missed the fourth rider.No safety in numbers for speeding riders

To back up his observations of each rider’s speed, he used a bodycam to record the vision of the riders and a partial view of their speed on the dashboard-mounted radar unit.

Proving the speeds of several riders in a group seems impossible, yet the Magistrate in this case accepted the police evidence.

The defendant, who has already spent $5500 on the matter, plans to take it further.

No safety in numbersDangers of organised group rides numbers

Many riders may have similar stories of numbers of riders copping the same speeding fine while others may have examples of only one rider being pulled out of a group for speeding.

Both scenarios seem unfair and unjust.

Except for fixed speed cameras, which can pick up individual number plates to issue fines, there does not appear to be any mobile equipment that can do the same.

In this case, the officer backs up his evidence with bodycam video.

We asked police in each state about their operations and policy.

Only Victoria, Queensland and South Australia replied, while the others refused to comment on operational procedures or “hypothetical situations”.

Victorian Police say that “under the right circumstances it is possible for police to intercept and issue speeding infringements to a large group of motorcyclists”.

However, they won’t say what those “right circumstances” are.

It seems police are simply willing to fine group riders and accept the chance that it may be challenged in court.

Police repliesDayGlo Queensland Police helmet camera fined witnesses robbed

Here are the replies from Queensland and SAPOL:

Queensland Police utilise multiple types of speed detection devices that are capable of accurately detecting motorists exceeding the speed limit.  Police remind all road users to drive safely and not exceed the speed limit. A handheld laser speed detection device will enable accurate targeting of an individual vehicle travelling in a group of vehicles. A mobile radar will not allow the individual targeting of a vehicle travelling in a group of vehicles, however it does have a feature that will allow the device to display both the strongest signal returned and the fastest vehicle detected. With regards to both types of devices, it is incumbent upon the operator to make visual observations as part of a valid tracking history to confirm the speed detected is accurate. The observations of the officer are vital in supporting any prosecution.

SAPOL uses both hand-held laser and vehicle mounted radar devices to detect speeds, along with officers observations of vehicles. A laser device could be used to detect speed of a motor cycle rider in a group.  The detection could be used to prove that other persons in the group were exceeding the speed limit, if they were observed by police as travelling parallel to each other.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Automatic speed limiters mandated

European politicians have voted on a raft of mandatory safety technology in all new vehicles including “black box” recorders, automatic braking and even automatic speed limiters.

The technology will only apply to new vehicles with some measures, such as auto emergency brakes in cars, being introduced as early as next year.

New safety measures include:

  • New crash testing requirements;
  • Mandatory installation of driver assistance systems including Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection;
  • Overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) and Emergency Lane Keeping; and
  • New direct vision standard for lorries and buses to enable drivers to have a better view of other road users around their vehicle.

Automatic speed limiters

The ISA system uses Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) technology which is already included in some luxury cars.

The technology uses sensors which “read” and interpret roadside traffic signs and govern the speed of automated vehicles to the posted speed limit.

Yamaha and BMW have already developed automated motorcycles and other companies such as KTM and Ducati are working similar radar technology.

Ducati and Audi demonstraties V2X radar limiters
Ducati and Audi demonstratie radar sensors

They say the automatic speed limiters will be overridable so that means you can switch it off.

But we suspect that when you switch your motorcycle on, it will default to being activated just like traction control and ABS are on current vehicles fitted with these rider aids.

However, one big problem in Australia is the standard and maintenance of our roadside speed signs.

Austroads read Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR) Signs limiters
Austroads report on TSR

An Austroads report says our signs will have to be improved. After all, what would TSR make of signs in rural areas that have been used for target practice!

We can think of several other scenarios where interventionist technology limiting your speed could be danger.

For example, if you commit to overtaking a vehicle which then speeds up, you could be left stranded on the wrong side of the road, unable to complete the overtaking manoeuvre.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Is covert speed detection a deterrent?

Most motorists hate covert speed detection by police, yet they seem to be finding more and more sneaky ways to cover themselves while operation radar units and speed cameras.

Gold Coast rider Gary Lynn confronted the cop photographed in the bushes above on the Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd last Sunday.

“Don’t they realise their presence on the roads will do more than hiding in bushes?” he asks.

“It’s blatant revenue-raising at its finest.”

Both sentiments are shared by many motorcyclists and drivers in multiple opinion polls.

Even the Queensland Police Union says unmarked and covert speed cameras should be banned as they do nothing more than raise government revenue.

We ask: “How would the officer in the bushes feel if he clocked a speeding rider on his hand-held TruCAM laser digital camera and the rider crashed and died further down he road?”

And how would the rider’s widow feel when she received the offence notice in the post a few days later knowing a police officer could have pulled over her speeding husband and saved his life?

Covert activity

Police Covert speed camera
Somewhere in there is a cop!

Gary posted his photographs on his GC Hinterland and Northern NSW Road Conditions (motorcyclists) Facebook page to make others aware of covert police activity in the region.

It was followed by another post showing what a rider thought was a car parked in a private property with the boot up and a speed camera located inside. It could not be verified as a covert police camera.

Is covert detection legal?

Well, yes and no. It depends on the state and how the speed detection equipment is deployed.

We asked police in every state for their policies on covert speed detection and most replied.

Victoria Police say mobile speed cameras are “not deployed in a concealed way”, but didn’t answer questions about handheld devices and cops hiding in bushes.

South Australia Police say they make “no apologies about using covert, camouflaged cameras to detect dangerous road behaviour”.

WA Police basically told us it was none of our business: “We use various tools to assist in our traffic enforcement capabilities.  We will not be providing details of specific tools or methodologies.”

NSW Police say they “use a range of enforcement strategies to assist in reducing road trauma”. But, like the WA cops, they say it’s none of our business.

“For operational reasons it would be inappropriate to discuss the guidelines surrounding these strategies. If riders and drivers observe the speed limits then they have nothing to be concerned about,” they say.

Queensland Police are a little vague, telling us the Queensland Camera Detected Offence Program “utilises an evidence based mixture of covert and marked camera operations”.

Police using covert TruCAM laser speed camera
Queensland Police using covert TruCAM laser speed camera

Yet the Queensland police website clearly states: “It is not the policy of the Queensland Police Service to deliberately conceal speed cameras.”

Dissenting views

It’s not just motorists who don’t like covert speed detection devices.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers says these “sneaky” devices do not reduce the road toll nor stop motorists from speeding.

“Getting a ticket in the mail up to a month after speeding when you can barely remember even where you were back then, has no effect and is quite rightly cynically viewed as revenue raising,” he said.

RACQ technical and safety policy spokesman Steve Spalding says they also prefer a visible police presence.

“Our members have repeatedly told us that over the years, they much prefer to see a police officer use a marked vehicle, not just for speeding, but for all of the other problem behaviours that we see on the road,” he says.radar police speed camera demerit hidden lidar

MUARC report

However, motorists, police unions and motoring groups are fighting a losing battle against covert speed detection.

Politicians and police typically cite a Monash University academic and an Auditor General’s report that back covert speed cameras as more effective at reducing general speeding than high-visibility cameras.

Monash University Accident Research Centre professor Max Cameron says high-visibility speed cameras are only good for reducing speed at a black spot.

Mobile speed cameras were originally introduced to reduce speed at black spots. NSW still has very prominently signed fixed and mobile speed cameras, Western Australia is now trialling more visible speed cameras and England is going all-out to make the cameras much more visible.

However, Queensland has removed the signs warning of mobile speed cameras and a report by Queensland’s auditor-general found they are not always deployed at the right time, in the right location, or in the “right mode” (not covert enough).

The report says only 16.3% of mobile deployment hours is covert because police want to avoid perceptions of revenue-raising.

It recommends that a high percentage of covert deployment would prompt a general deterrence to speeding.

Professor Cameron agrees: ”… if you’re trying to affect speeding all the time then the best idea is to make sure the cameras aren’t predictable or apparent and to operate them covertly,” the professor says. “The idea of being conspicuous is really in the wrong direction.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Wire rope barrier advocate honoured

The road safety expert who advocates wire rope barriers, lower speed limits and mandatory hi-vis vests for riders, and alcohol interlocks and electronic rider aids on bikes has been honoured with a special award.

UNSW Sydney Professor Raphael Grzebieta has been honoured with the 2019 Kenneth A Stonex award in recognition of his lifetime contribution to reducing run-off-road injuries and transport deaths worldwide.

The professor once said every motorcycle should come with an alcohol interlock, ABS and other electronic rider aids, while riders should be “lit up like a Christmas tree”.

He also says speed limits throughout Australia are “much too high” and in some circumstances should be 80km/h on highways and 40km/h in cities.

But one of his most controversial stances — particularly among motorcyclists — is his support for  wire rope barriers.

The self-proclaimed “world authority on motorcycle-into-barrier impacts” says “riders killed in barrier impacts is less than 1% of all road fatalities” and “around 5-6% of all motorcycle fatalities”.

“In other words, any changes to current designs of road barriers will have almost no effect on reducing rider fatalities and serious injuries,” he says.

Prof honoured

Professor Raphael Grzebieta honoured
Professor Raphael Grzebieta

The annual Stonex award was presented by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Transportation Research Board’s (TRB’s) Roadside Safety Design Committee AFB20.

It honoured the Prof for “identifying the leading causes of roadside fatalities and injuries and developing mitigation techniques using full-scale crash testing and computer simulation”.

WRB supporter

The Professor says he has “long advocated for installing nation-wide wire-rope barriers”.

“When wire-rope barriers are installed with rumble strips on rural roads, there is an 80 to 90% reduction in fatalities and serious injuries,” he says. Sweden halved their fatalities when they installed these barrier systems in 2000.

“Victoria has now installed 1200km of wire-rope barriers on rural roads to reduce their rising fatality count in 2016. They just recorded their lowest ever road fatality count (in 2018).

“Other states and in particular NSW are still lagging behind terribly. They are simply not investing the same scale of money to have a real effect on deaths and serious injuries.”

Victoria’s road toll in 2018 was 214, compared with 259 in 2017 and 290 in 2016 when they started installing wire-rope barriers, he says.

The Prof says the barriers have been controversial with motorcyclists because of misinformation.

WRBs rejected

Several rider groups in Australia and two leading European rider groups have objected to the countinuing rollout of WRBs.

They have also supported a petition by widow Jan White, whose husband, Phil, aged 60, died when his bike unavoidably hit a dead kangaroo on a 110km/h slightly sweeping bend of the Calder Highway in Victoria on November 5, 2017.

Widow calls for halt on wire rope barrier ads honoured
Phil and Jan White

Phil hit four support poles on the WRBs next to the road.

Click here to sign her petition against the rollout of WRBs.

Critics of WRBs say they are positioned too close to the roadside and prevent drivers and riders from pulling over in an emergency our breakdown.

The Victoria Country Fire Fire Authority has also criticised the rollout of WRBs, saying they block access to crashes and bushfires

Prof Grzebieta helped launch a $1 million project examining motorcycle impacts into roadside barriers and how motorcyclists could be better protected in collisions, particularly with W-beam barriers.

“We disproved all of the myths promulgated by motorcyclists, providing strong support for continued installation of these lifesaving barrier systems,” he says.

“Sweden saw a 40 to 60% reduction in motorcycle fatalities.”

However, WRBs are banned in Belgium and Norway, not supported by the Netherlands government and have never been used in Germany or other European countries, except Poland, Iceland, Romania, Sweden and the UK to a lesser extent.

Speed freakSpeed limits 30km/h city honoured

Professor Grzebieta also says the award recognises his research into the reduction of speed limits on highways, suburban and high pedestrian active streets.

“The speed limits throughout Australia, in particular NSW, WA and NT, are much too high,” he says.

“In NSW, the limit on parts of the Newell highway are 110km/h where there are no barriers installed. The speed should be reduced to the survivable limit of 80km/h unless median and roadside barriers have been installed.

“Also the speed limit in residential streets, the CBD and high pedestrian active areas should be 40km/h, preferably 30km/h, in line with best practise European countries that have half the Australian fatality rates,” he says.

“The Australian default speed limit for suburban roads is currently set at 50km/h.”

In a paper he co-wrote with his UNSW Sciences colleague Professor Jake Olivier, presented two weeks ago at the TRB’s annual meeting where Professor Grzebieta received his award, Professor Grzebieta said the reduced speed limits he proposed were commonly used by countries such as Sweden, Netherlands and the UK, which had the world’s lowest road fatality rates.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com