Tag Archives: traffic offence

Do police traffic offence quotas exist?

The issue of police being directed to meet traffic offence targets or quotas are back in the news in Queensland and South Australia.

The matter generally raises the ire of motorists who say it is proof that police are revenue raisers rather than performing road safety duties.

Critics also say it leads to motorists being fined for minor speeds and diverts police patrols from catching high-range speeders.

Controversial quotas

The quota controversy has been raised after two recent events:

  • In Queensland, emails that set quotas for traffic tickets have been revealed in court by a Gold Coast cop in evidence of bullying by senior officers. Queensland police have always denied the existence of quotas but have again admitted there are “benchmark” expectations or “targets” for officers on various offences.
  • In South Australia, a senior police officer sent an email to staff offering a gift card as an incentive to issue more speeding and traffic fines. SA Police were forced to retract the email and advise that the incentive went against official policy.

Motorists may not be convinced, especially after examples of what they consider blatant revenue-raising such as our recent article about the use of covert TruCAMs on a downhill stretch of Mt Glorious Rd to nab as many speeding riders as possible.

Quota history

Offence quotas (or “benchmarks”, or “targets”) for police are not new.

In the 1970s and ‘80s, the Queensland Bjelke-Petersen government blatantly referred to them as “kill sheets” for traffic and criminal offences.

Officers were required to reach certain targets to gain promotion or face punitive measures such as a long run of “graveyard shifts”.

Rather than promoting road safety and a crackdown on crime, it led to massive police corruption, culminating in the Fitzgerald Inquiry and subsequent jailing of senior cops and politicians.

Quotas exist in various countries at varying levels of legality around the world.

For example, the UK Government ran a two-year pilot project with the Thames Valley force allowing police to claim back a proportion of speeding fines to pay for road safety projects.

Quotas are largely outlawed in democratic countries as unconstitutional.

Yet the practice often continues in a non-official capacity to evaluate the productivity of “slack and lazy officers”, as one former senior cop told us.

  • Are “targets, benchmarks, incentives, kill sheets, or productivity evaluations” just quotas by another name? Leave your comments below.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Holiday riders caught on covert TruCAM

Brisbane riders who spent Wednesday’s Ekka Holiday riding the famed Mt Glorious Rd may find they have an unwelcome TruCAM speeding fine in the mail in the next couple of weeks.

This video was recorded by rider David Englebright, showing police in the bushes using the TruCAM hand-held laser digital camera to record speeding offences.

Holiday surprise

“Being a public holiday in Brisbane a lot of people were out enjoying a drive or ride over Mt Glorious,” he says.

“They will get a rude shock in a few weeks.

“Little did they know a policemen was hiding in the bushes of the far side of Mt Glorious on a downhill selection of road with a TruCAM taking pics of vehicles going down the hill.

Video TruCAM
David on his Triumph

“This is a section where a billy cart would do more than 60km/h.

“This is no deterrent to speeding, just revenue raising.”

While there is no longer any requirement for speed camera detection signs, the Queensland police website clearly states: “It is not the policy of the Queensland Police Service to deliberately conceal speed cameras.”

Covert concerns

This is yet another incident which may spark debate over the lack of speed deterrence in covert operations while others will argue “if you’re not speeding, you have nothing to worry about”.

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.

Is covert detection legal?

Police using covert TruCAM laser speed camera impossible
Police using TruCAM laser speed camera in an unmarked car with tinted windows

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”.

MUARC report

Police Covert speed camera
Somewhere in there is a cop with TruCAM!

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

Tips when pulled over for speeding

Motorists sometimes inadvertently convict themselves for speeding when they are pulled over by the police, says NSW traffic solicitor Chris Kalpage.

We have previously offered tips on what to do if pulled over by the police as well as tips from the police themselves!

Now, Chris has offered the following tips on what to do when pulled over specifically by NSW police for speeding, although the lessons are generally applicable around the world.

Chris Kalpage evidence pulled
Chris Kalpage on his Ducati

Recorded

If you are pulled over by a NSW highway patrol vehicle, the conversation is being recorded on both audio and video.

Even if it is not a highway patrol vehicle, the officer will make notes on your responses.

Often people are nervous and say things. It is sometimes safer not to make any admissions, especially if you do not have all the facts.

Even then, be wary of making admissions as they may seriously compromise your potential defence.

For example, where exactly do they say they observed you speeding and how did they assess your speed?

It can be the case that where you were alleged to be speeding is not where you have been pulled over by police. You may not have been speeding at the point they say you were.

In one case I defended, the in-car video clearly showed the bike passed the unmarked police car travelling in the opposite direction some 15km from where the rider was eventually pulled up. The rider obviously had no idea what the officer was talking about. 

Identity crisis

If a police officer comes knocking on your door accusing you of failing to stop, there are clearly issues about the potential identity of the rider, etc.

In another situation on the Wisemans Ferry, a Ducati 748R rider went past a police four-wheel-drive and they accused my client some days later.

We successfully defended the case over the accuracy of the police recording of the bike rego number and whether it was his bike at the scene.

You generally don’t know all the facts on the side of the road so why step on a potential landmine?

Assessing speed

LIDAR radar speed gun pulled
LIDAR radar speed gun

Generally there are four methods police use to assess speed, excluding fixed and mobile speed cameras. They are listed here in descending order of accuracy:

  1. The Lidar, which is a gun-like object which projects a laser beam and is aimed by the officer at an alleged specific target;
  2. The in-car radar which is a radar attached to the police car and uses a Doppler beam;
  3. Check speed which is a police officer following you and assessing your speed by using the car’s digital speedometer. It essentially shows their speed which may not be yours; and
  4. Police officer’s estimate, which has no objective measurement of speed.

Often the police will use one of the first three methods, combined with their estimate. 

Things to consider on the roadsideRider pulled over by police licence checks

If you have the presence of mind, ask the officer where specifically you are alleged to have been speeding and how they assessed your speed.

It is beneficial for you to take photographs of where the incident is meant to have taken place. If you have the capacity on your GPS or phone, record the exact longitude and latitude.

On country roads it may be difficult to pinpoint the exact location weeks later when you decide you want to challenge the allegation.

If the police officer was stationary when they alleged they observed you speeding, try to observe from that vantage point.

That will provide you with the officer’s visibility of your approaching vehicle and their maximum sighting distance.

Again, take photographs from that vantage point. Take notice of anything that may have obstructed the officer’s vision in tracking your vehicle.

Try to assess the distance you travelled from when the officer first observed you to when they started their test. This distance will depend on your alleged speed. Consider the following:

  1. What is the maximum sighting distance the officer had from where they were standing or where their vehicle was parked;
  2. From the maximum distance, how far had you travelled when the officer finished their test? Often we roughly work that out from when they step out on to the road or when they turn their lights on if facing you or if you get shown the reading on the Lidar; and
  3. If they are mobile, we use either when they turn their lights on as they are approaching or, at the worst, the “crossover point”. That is the point at which they go past you and are no longer getting a reading from your vehicle.

Disclaimer

Chris Kalpage evidence pulled
Chris Kalpage

This article is for your information and interest only. It is based on New South Wales law only. It is not intended to be comprehensive, and does not constitute and must not be relied on as legal advice. Please be aware that every case is different and the matters raised may not be of specific relevance to your situation but may have a general application. Seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.

Chris can be contacted via email (mailto:kalpage@aol.comor phone 0418211074.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Higher speeding fines for the rich?

Is it time for Australia’s speeding fine system to be overhauled so the rich don’t get away with comparatively light fines while working Aussie motorists pay among the highest fines in the world?

According to British website GoCompare, Australians rank sixth in the world with the highest fines and 10th in relation to their average wage.

Ours is supposed to be an egalitarian and fair society, but how can it be fair for a motorist on a low wage to pay the same fine as a millionaire?

The average Aussie speeding fine for 21km/h over the limit is $401. South Australia leads with $771 fine, followed by NSW ($472), Queensland ($435), Western Australia ($400), Victoria ($332) and Tasmania ($163).

Top 10 fines for speeding 20km/h+

  1. Norway $1028
  2. Iceland $750
  3. Estonia $626
  4. United Kingdom $595
  5. Sweden $412
  6. Australia $401
  7. Switzerland $362
  8. Israel $282
  9. Netherlands $278
  10. Canada $275

Rich cop higher fines cops speed speeding radar fast speed camera licence rich

Several countries, such as Britain, Finland and Switzerland, have a system where speeding fines are linked to their wages.

The UK has just introduced a system where fines for excessive speeding have increased to 150% of their weekly income. It is capped at £1000 ($A1770), or £2500 ($A4435) if caught on a motorway.

After all, a rich pro footballer, celebrity or wealthy aristocrat would not be deterred by the average UK speeding fine of £188 ($A333).

Meanwhile, the UK has retained their minimum speeding fine of £100 ($A177) and motorists can chose to reduce that further by attending a speed awareness course.

Switzerland and Finland are much tougher on their rich speeders.

Finland uses a “day fine” system of half the offender’s daily disposable income with the percentage increasing according to their speed over the limit.

In 2002, former Nokia director Anssi Vanjoki copped a $A190,000 fine for riding his motorcycle 75km/h in a 50km/h zone.

But that’s not the world record speeding fine which was handed out in Switzerland in 2010 to a Swedish motorist caught driving at 290km/h.

He was fined 3600 Swiss francs per day for 300 days which worked out to almost $A1.5m.

Click here for our tips on riding in Europe.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Appeal call for rider-raging driver

An appeal could be launched against a Canberra motorist who received a “light penalty” for twice swerving dangerously at legally lane-filtering motorcyclists.

The driver, Jake Searle, 28, had been charged with two counts of driving with intent to menace.

He faced maximum penalties of more than $3000 in fines or 12 months in jail or both for each of these charges.

However, the charges were downgraded as he was a first offender.

Searle was released on a one-year good behaviour order and disqualified from driving for three months. He also avoided a fine.

Call for appeal

ACT Shadow Attorney General and Triumph Street Twin rider Jeremy Hansen is calling for an appeal.

“As a fellow rider I am very concerned by any incident that could potentially endanger the life of a motorcyclist,” he says.

“I understand the view that this sentence does not meet community expectations and will write to the ACT Director of Prosecutions to ask if they intend to appeal.”

Meanwhile, ACT Police say they are “waiting for a response from the relevant person/area” regarding an appeal.

We also contacted ACT Minister for Corrections and Justice Shane Rattenbury, Police Minister Mick Gentleman and Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay for comment on the sentence.

None has yet replied.

The Australian Motorcycle Council says it is “of concern when a driver uses their vehicle in a premeditated manner, as a weapon to harm others”.

“There appears to be little distinction between the quality of actions of this driver and those of the driver who killed pedestrians in Melbourne, although a difference in the scale or degree,” the AMC says.

Menacing videos

The incidents occurred on Majura Parkway on 30 October 2018. One incident is shown in this video which we published on November 2.

ACT Police were made aware of this video a day later and began investigating.

A second video later emerged showing the same driver swerving at another rider.

ACT Police made several calls for help to identify the two riders so a charge could be laid.

Police seek riders in lane filtering incidents call faces charges menacing
The rider in the second incident

At the time, ACT Police issued these details of the incident:

About 4:30pm, the riders were separately travelling northbound on Majura Parkway, Majura, when a green Ford Falcon swerved, almost colliding with the riders. At the time, the riders were lawfully lane filtering.

Legal filtering

Interestingly, these incidents occurred only a few weeks after the ACT made lane filtering legal.

Lane filtering was introduced in NSW five years ago and is now legal in all states and territories.

Not only is lane filtering legal but it also benefits all motorists as it helps move heavy traffic more quickly.

You can do your bit to educate drivers by sharing our “Open letter to drivers“.

Filtering rage

Drivers obstructing riders has been happening since lane filtering was introduced.

Check out this video from 2017 sent to us by Newcastle rider Harry Criticos.

“I was filtering legally when a driver stuck his whole body out in an attempt to block me,” the 2016 Triple Black R 1200 GS rider told us.

“I did not stop and he did make contact with the bike. I hope it hurt.”

This motorist was fined $325 and three demerit points.

Lane filtering is legal 

Surely it is time for some major advertising campaigns in each state to advise motorists that riders are allowed to filter and what benefits there are for ALL motorists.

That was the major finding of an online poll we conducted in 2016, yet there are still few major ad campaigns.

So far, lane filtering education campaigns have been minimal and mainly aimed at riders, not the general motoring public.

We not only need major ad campaigns, but also roadside signage such as this photoshopped sign.

lane filtering signs consensus duty defend filter call charge
Here’s a sign we’d like to see!

We are not aware of any polls about lane filtering in Australia.

However, in California where lane splitting (filtering at higher speeds than 30km/h) is legal, polls have found it is vastly unpopular among other road users. The main objection is that it’s unfair!

That breeds hostility which results in stupid behaviour such as in the above video.

Lane filtering lane splitting America danger bosch filter call charge
Lane splitting is unpopular in the USA

So long as lane filtering remains unpopular and/or erroneously believed to be illegal, motorists will do stupid and dangerous things to stop riders filtering.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Watch out for unmarked Tassie Tigers!

If you are heading down to do a lap of Tasmania before or after your annual MotoGP pilgrimage, watch out for the unmarked Tassie Tigers!

We don’t mean the extinct thylacine, known affectionately as Tasmanian Tigers.unmarked tassie tiger

We are talking about the Triumph Tigers that Tasmanian Police seem to have approved as covert motorcycles.

Unmarked cop bikes

Unmarked police bikes are civilian versions which have discrete emergency lights, sirens and cameras fitted, but no police identification stickers, numbers or paintwork.

While we are not exactly sure what models the Tassie cops are using, when we asked Police Minister Mark Shelton for specifics a spokesperson said they wouldn’t be “releasing further details for operational reasons”.

However, they did include this photo of a Triumph Tiger XRx adventure bike, so it appears they will be able to patrol on dirt roads as well.Unmarked Police-Bike

Here is the ministerial press release:

This contemporary patrol method allows the unmarked motorcycle to penetrate traffic by lane filtering and is primarily used to detect offences like speeding, mobile phone usage, inattention, traffic light offences and blocking intersections,” a ministerial statement says.

The initial trial in Hobart detected more than 1000 offences in the first three months with the majority being high risk offences and 1-in-4 being a mobile phone offence.

The unmarked motorcycles are fitted with full lights and sirens and three different models of motorcycle will be used.

Motorcycle officers report that there has been a noticeable change in driver behaviour and the introduction of helmet-mounted recording cameras has led to only one person challenging an infringement.

The program has also received strong public support with many motorists supportive of mobile phone enforcement and other offences that contribute to traffic congestion.

Is it sneaky?

Police using covert TruCAM laser speed camera impossible
Police using TruCAM laser speed camera in an unmarked car with tinted windows

Using unmarked motorcycles or cars to patrol for traffic offences is similar to the use of covert speed cameras.

The Minister’s assertion that the public approves of such covert traffic policing may be askew, says the Australian Motorcycle Council.

“The perception of unmarked vehicles has changed as result of other aspects of an increasing surveillance culture by governments,” the AMC says.

“Marked police vehicles in all states are a visible presence which positively influences road behaviour, often to improve rider safety.

“Unmarked police vehicles such as used by detective agencies are understandable, but unmarked vehicles for road law enforcement appear more punitive as they have no perceived positive role in encouraging good roadcraft.

“A great opportunity exists if well-trained police riders were tasked with giving words of advice to riders displaying poor skills. A good rider is a good risk manager.”

Unmarked cops

Road safety crash accident motorcycle
Unmarked police bikes

Tasmania is not the only state using covert police motorcycles.

Police in most states and territories use a variety of unidentified road and off-road motorcycles, mainly BMWs and even a Suzuki Hayabusa in Queensland!

Queensland Police Service unmarked Suzuki Hayabusa patrol bike - Ducati Panigale V4 busa covert
Queensland cop Busa

Queensland Police Sergeant Dave Nelson says he can scan a motorist’s speed up to 1km away on his “plain-clothes” motorcycle.

“So I can see you before you see me and by the time you realise that I’m not just a normal motorcycle, but a police motorcyclist, it’s too late,” he says. 

The QPS stays they use unmarked motorcycles as “both an operational resource and to engage with motorcycle riders to discuss and promote road safety”.

Queensland has a fleet of six unmarked motorcycles and “intends to expand its fleet with a view of targeting road users doing the wrong thing and promoting road safety”.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Riders charged over third-party GoPro evidence

NSW Police are charging riders with traffic offences based on GoPro video evidence obtained from other riders, says Sydney lawyer and Ducati 1098S rider Chris Kalpage.

There have been many incidents of riders being charged after self-incriminating evidence was found on their GoPro footage, mobile phone data, GPS and even bike data loggers.

However, Chris says he knows of at least two occasions where NSW Highway Patrol have sifted through the GoPro video of riders to find offences by other riders they may have been following.

He says these riders have been fined for speeding, crossing unbroken and double lines, wheelies, etc.

GoPro evidenceShoei helmet with a GoPro action camera mounted

“I have had matters where a person may spend the day riding with their GoPro videoing their heroics coming up behind other riders who unknowingly may be transgressing,” says Chris, 61, who has been riding since he was 15.

“The rider with the GoPro is spotted at the end of the day by police and pulled over for some transgression that the officer has seen and confiscate their GoPro.

“Subsequently they play the video back at the station and then pay visits to anybody they see on the video.

“The police will then attend the premises of the registered owners of the bikes that they have seen on the videos and place a notice of demand asking that they identify who the rider was at the relevant time.”

Police rights

Chris says police may be within their legal rights to confiscate your GoPro or any other device if “certain prerequisites exist”.

In some places, such as America, police may first have to obtain a search warrant. In Australia, they don’t, so long as the search is lawful.

If police conduct a lawful search, they can seize your camera, SD card, phone, GPS or bike data.

A lawful search is where you give police permission to search you or when the officer has a “reasonable suspicion” that you could have an item containing evidence of an offence.

A crash is a situation where police might exercise their right to collect relevant evidence from victims, offenders and bystanders.

Riders’ rights

GoPro Chris Kalpage evidence
Chris on his Ducati

Chris says NSW Police are going to the home of the registered owners of bikes they have seen on video and formally demanding they identify the rider at the relevant time.

Of course, he advises riders approached by police to identify themselves to first contact their lawyer.

“They often wont show you the video and you will have to take it on faith that you were the relevant bike that was seen on someone’s GoPro footage,” he says.

“In the absence of your election the police have no evidence as to who the rider may have been.”

Chris says it could be difficult for police to substantiate a speeding offence based on the video of a following rider.

“It may be that the speedo of the GoPro rider’s bike can be seen but then it would amount to whether the rider is speeding to catch up with the bike in front or is keeping a consistent distance, and visual over a reasonable period of time,” he says.

“Similarly how do we know whether the GoPro rider’s speedo is accurate? After all, many of us change the sprockets of our bikes which can affect the speedo accuracy.”

He advises that there are many factors in video GoPro evidence that may be challenged, including the legality of the seizure of the evidence.

Click here for our advice to riders about confiscation of a device which may have incriminating evidence.

If you have any questions about this topic or other traffic-related matter, you can ask Chris by leaving your question in the comments section below.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Police plan National Day of Action

Police in every state plan to immediately increase police presence on regional roads leading up to a “National Day of Action” on Tuesday 27 August 2019.

We contacted the police in each state to find out what a National Day of Action will involve, but they have not revealed anything specific.

One police media unit replied: “The National Day of Action is still in the planning stages. We hope to provide updates as the day approaches.”

National forum

However, they have all pledged to increase police presence on rural roads after yesterday’s national meeting in Victoria of all state road policing deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners.

Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Wendy Steendam said there was “great value in the jurisdictions all coming together to workshop the challenges and consider short-term solutions at a national level, as well as developing some longer-term collaborative strategies”.

“From discussions it was clear there are some common challenges that we are all facing,” she says.

“A particular trend is the increasing trauma on our rural and regional roads, as well as the emergence of drug driving.”

Victorian Police have also previously called for a reduction of 100km/h rural road speeds to 80km/h.

National Day of action

Yesterday’s forum involving all police jurisdictions agreed to participate in a National Day of Action on 27 August.

They also resolved to “work together to look at ways that data and research can be shared, as well as a coordinated communication approach for road policing messaging in the community”.

It is unclear what this means for the motoring public, but we suspect greater road policing and more speed camera deployments.

Tougher penalties

Cops mobile phone penalties day of action
Police patrol for mobile phone misuse

The forum also follows a recent national summit on driver destruction in Queensland.

After the summit, several states said they would consider tougher laws on illegal mobile phone use while driving.

Victoria also included tougher penalties for all motorists for a variety of offences including failure to fit an L plate on a motorcycle and failure learner riders to securely fasten their hi-vis vest.

The Victorian Motorcycle Council has objected to the L plate offence and called for the mandatory hi-vis vest rule for learner riders to be scrapped.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Call to remove mandatory learner hi-vis

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

Among many changes to the road rules, the road regs review proposes one demerit point for learner riders who do not wear a “securely fastened” hi-vis vest and for failing to display an L plate.

The VMC say there is no proven road safety benefit in either proposal and claim the decreased air flow from a securely fastened vest “could cause accelerated fatigue and heat stress”.

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
Victoria Solo Unit motorcycle police uniforms

However, it didn’t stop this British copper from being hit by a driver who just didn’t look.

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?

Remove L plate proposalLearn learner novice Ride to Review plate remove

The Road Safety Regulations paper also proposes one demerit point for failing to correctly display an L plate.

The VMC has called to remove the proposal, saying it is not a safety issue.

They say 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.”

Click here to read the full VMC submission.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Panic over hi-vis vest proposal

An incorrect News Ltd media report that Victoria proposes introducing hi-vis for all riders has caused some level of social media panic in the riding community.

Riders have been sharing the inaccurate reports which were lifted from the “Road Safety Regulations 2019 summary paper for consultation”.

So, for a start, it’s only a proposal at this stage.

The sentence lifted out of context is “Driving a motorcycle without a securely fitted and fastened high visibility vest of jacket”.

It is under a section that suggests introducing demerit points for the offence.

Learner riders have been required to wear hi-vis vests in Victoria from some years now. The proposal only adds a demerit point.high visibility motorcycle clothing panic

Panic stations

The erroneous News Ltd articles have been shared on social media causing panic among Victorian and interstate riders amid threats to protest.

Victorian Motorcycle Exports Advisory Panel member Dean Marks says there was a similar social media response when hi-vis for learners was proposed.

However, he points out that “the riding community sat on their collective thumbs” and only a small number turned out at a rally against the changes.

Dean blames infighting among “fractured” rider representative groups in the state for the apathy.

While the Victorian Government is not proposing hi-vis for all riders, many consider it may be on the agenda in future.

In 2015, France introduced a rule where riders have to carry a hi-vis vest to wear during a breakdown.

Meanwhile, the South Australian Government is considering following Victoria with hi-vis for novice riders.

This is despite the road toll in Victoria rising in the past four years since introducing hi-vis vests which seems to indicate the increased motorcycle conspicuity of a hi-vis vests has had no beneficial effect.

University of Melbourne’s Chair of Statistics, Prof Richard Huggins, says his review of several studies on motorcycle conspicuity and “look but fail to see” (SMIDSY – Sorry, Mate I Didn’t See You) accidents casts “sufficient doubt” on the effectiveness of hi-vis.

He has previously called for a repeal of the Victorian mandatory requirement.

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Source: MotorbikeWriter.com