Tag Archives: VicRoads

Is traction control a key to safety?

The push for mandatory traction control in motorcycles seems to be starting already with a VicRoads safety campaign emphasising it is a key to rider safety.

The campaign features an erroneous online quiz which suggests that traction control will “prevent you from falling off”.

VicRoads is not alone in suggesting traction control and other electronic rider aids are the key to safety.

UNSW Sydney Professor Raphael Grzebieta has suggested every motorcycle should come with an alcohol interlock, ABS and other electronic rider aids, while riders should be “lit up like a Christmas tree”.

So we wonder how long it will be before traction control becomes mandatory on motorcycles.

After all, ABS became mandatory in European and Australian cars in 2003 while electronic stability control (incorporating traction control) became mandatory six years later.

ABS becomes mandatory in November on new motorcycles over 125cc (bikes with lower engine capacities must have either combined brakes systems or ABS), so maybe traction control will follow in six years!

There is already a growing push in Europe for more technologies to be made mandatory in vehicles such as “black box” recorders, automatic braking and even automatic speed limiters.

While the introduction of mandatory hi-tech in motorcycles has not yet been discussed, the examples of emissions controls and ABS show that motorcycles generally eventually follow suit.

Traction controlTattoo throttle hand key

The VicRoads “Always On” motorcycle safety campaign seems to suggest traction control is a key to rider safety.

In its online survey, the first question asks: “If something unexpected happens while you’re riding and you have to brake, which of the following can help prevent you from falling off?”

It provides these answer options: ABS, traction control and stability control or all three.

Their “correct” answer is all three: “ABS stops wheel lock, traction control senses traction loss and stability control monitors the way you’re riding. These technologies work together to keep you on your bike.”

They got one thing (partially) right: ABS does stop wheel lock.

As for whether traction or “stability” control are activated during braking is debatable.

To assess this part of the question, we need to know what they mean by those terms.

In cars, traction control was an early technology that simply cut engine power when the wheels started spinning.

Stability control is a lot more elaborate and involves sensors that detect pitch, roll and yaw, controlling it with a variety of measures that include throttle, brakes and even some steering input.

No motorcycle has true stability control, although some call their traction control “stability” control, even though it’s not.

So VicRoads firstly need to get their terms right. As it is, the mention of stability control is simply confusing.

Also, traction control would not activate under braking unless you are accelerating at the same time.

Key to safety?

But is traction control really the key to motorcycle safety as VicRoads and other safety “experts” suggest?

The idea of traction control is to prevent rear-wheel spin from too much power for the road surface by cutting engine power.

It helps to prevent power slides, but also wheelies and burnouts!

Peeves wheelie advertising key

As a motorcycle journalist, I have experienced traction control on many different motorcycles.

On one early incarnation, it hesitated in identifying the slip and then abruptly stopped the engine power, nearly throwing me over the high side.

However, traction control has improved dramatically and many modern bikes now offer varied controls for varied conditions.

For example, some have an off-road setting that allows some rear-wheel slide before a “soft” cut to the power.

This allows the rider to use power to turn the bike by sliding the tail to a certain degree before intervention.

Traction control will also help prevent slides on wet tarmac or bitumen roads with corrugations or slippery debris.

But it is wrong to think that traction control will prevent crashes.

You can still crash with traction control.

The problem is that if you do crash on a bike with traction control, it will most likely be at higher speeds than if you had no traction control!

Having traction control on your bike may also provide a false sense of confidence that makes riders careless with throttle use.

If traction control were made mandatory, how many manufacturers would simply add a cheap system that could be more dangerous than not having any traction control?

You can guarantee that these cheap systems would be included on the cheaper, learner bikes.

* Should traction control be mandatory on motorcycles? Leave your comments below.

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

Show of concern for rider safety

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

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

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

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

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

You can listen in here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riders respond

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

Other issues include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lives lost to midnight 23 May 2019, Victoria

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

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Coroner finds bump caused deaths

A hidden bump that caused the death of a rider and his pillion may not have been detected by VicRoads because it scans roads in a four-wheeled vehicle, not on a motorcycle.

The Victorian Coroner’s Court did not find VicRoads culpable for the deaths of Mark Rodgers, 47, and partner Jodi Walsham, 42.

However, Coroner Paresa Spanos recommended VicRoads improves training of its inspectors to be aware of vulnerable riders and promote its hotline to report road hazards.

VicRoads accepted the recommendations and pointed out that in February 2019 it announced specialised motorcycle hazard training for road inspection crews.

However it did not agree to inspect the roads on motorcycles.

Tragic crash

In March 2015, Mark was riding his 2007 Harley-Davidson Softail on the road with partner Jodi as his pillion and another couple following on a 2007 Fat Bob.

Mark rounded a blind left-hand bend after the Devil’s Backbone and hit a bump or “shove” that knocked the bike off course into the path of an oncoming marked Victoria Police Nissan Patrol four-wheel drive.

The bike hit the bullbar and went under the vehicle, bursting into flames. Mark and Jodi could not be revived and sadly died at the scene.

Bump causes death of Mark Rodgers and Jodi Walsham coroner
Mark and Jodi

Bump to blame

Coroner Paresa Spanos heard that the Softail had rounded the corner at more than the 45km/h advisory speed but less than the posted road speed limit of 80km/h.

The Coroner also heard that Honda Blackbird rider Martin Taylor hit the same bump the previous day, fell off his bike and slid across the road.

Martin survived because there were no oncoming vehicles.

Police did not attend the accident and the bump was not reported to VicRoads.

The bump was described by Justin Ezard who was following Mark on a Fat Bob as being like “a mini ramp”.

“It appeared about three foot long, six inches wide and six inches high,” he told the Coroner’s Court.

“It was big and it would not have been any fun to hit it at a faster speed.

“I didn’t lose control when I bit the bump as I hit it ‘dead-on’. It was just the slam when you hit it.”

VicRoads responsibility

Despite police not providing evidence of Mark’s bike hitting the bump, Coroner Spanos found the bump caused the accident and highlighted the “particular vulnerability of motorcycle riders to irregularities in the road surface”.

The Coroner said VicRoads had the responsibility to “inspect, maintain and repair” the arterial road, but had not identified the bump as a hazard to riders.

“This state of affairs would seem to speak to inherent limitations in the current inspection regime with its reliance on a four-wheeled vehicle traversing the roadway that its ill-equipped to discern road conditions that may be more problematic for a two-wheeled vehicle.”

Our view

Bad Roads Rally roadworks potholes Victoria road hazards bump
Victorian rural road

While VicRoads promises to train its inspectors to look out for specific motorcycle road hazards, it has not made any mention of scanning the roads on a motorcycle.

Four-wheeled vehicles can easily detect potholes and bumps in the wheel tracks.

However, only motorcycles can detect these hazards when they lie in between the wheel tracks.

Therefore, authorities need to send out inspectors on motorcycles, rather than in cars.

We believe that bumps, which are often less visible than potholes are worse far worse hazard for riders.

Potholes and bumps bump
A dangerous mid-lane lateral seam or ridge

It is also important for riders to report road hazards to authorities. They may be cynical that they will be fixed, but at least there will be an official record of the report.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Inspectors trained in motorcycle road hazards

A fatal motorcycle crash on a corrugated road surface has sparked a new training program for inspectors to look out for specific road hazards that endanger motorcyclists.

VicRoads Safe System Road Infrastructure Program director Scott Lawrence says the training for existing surveillance officers would help road crews “better identify imperfections and other potential road hazards for motorcyclists”.

“The program has been designed by leading road safety experts with extensive motorcycle safety knowledge to help identify road imperfections and other hazards and ensure these are remedied as soon as possible,” Scott says.

“The surveillance officer teams, some of which include motorcyclists, are committed to reducing road hazards including surface imperfections (particularly on bends and on the approaches to bends), debris and other environmental factors that could destabilise riders.”

He advises that motorcyclists can also call 13 11 70 to report a road hazard.

Fatal road hazards

Victorian Motorcycle Council media spokesman John Eacott says the move is a direct result of “a fatal motorcycle accident involving a pavement shove (corrugations) which destabilised the bike”.

He says the training “can only be seen as a positive”.

“The VMC support this and look forward to more road safety initiatives that make riding safer,” he says.

“One such initiative which is long overdue is an extensive campaign to educate all road users about motorcycle lane filtering and both its safety and congestion-relieving benefits.”

Pothole roadworks road hazards
Dangerous road conditions are no laughing matter for riders

Former No 1 member of the Motorcycle Riders Association of Australia, Rodney Brown suggests motorcycle riders have input into the new VicRoads training.

“VicRoads needs to undertake a proper training needs analysis in partnership with motorcycle riders, pillions and other stake holders,” he says.

Dean Marks, the independent rider representative on the Motorcycle Experts Advisory Panel to the Roads Minister, questions the ability of VicRoads to respond fast enough to road hazards.

“VicRoads has not really done any sort of serious advisory work to notify riders and drivers of this number and process. It is something you need to search for,” he says.

“As we know, road conditions that may be suitable for four-wheeled vehicles may have a very different and fatal outcome for riders.

“Should riders stop and call every time they encounter unsafe road conditions, they would be lucky to cover 200 metres in a day.

“We are yet to see what will be done in the form of response to any hazard called in. We already have a plethora of situations where VicRoads have been advised of serious hazards and they still remain unmarked for elongated periods of time.

“I honestly feel that riders are treated with a great deal of contempt. In any environment where safety is paramount, education and proactive actions are first and foremost.”

Safety package

melbourne bus lanes road hazard
Melbourne bus lanes

The VicRoads training initiative is part of a recent $1 million road safety package funded by the Victorian motorcycle safety level.

The package also includes:

  • An extension of the bus lane trial in Hoddle and Fitzgerald streets to include the Eastern Freeway inbound from the Chandler Highway to Hoddle Street, and Victoria Parade between Hoddle Street and Brunswick Street; 
  • Developing a learner and novice rider pack containing tips, resources, a high-visibility vest and other “safety” equipment; and
  • The MotoCAP motorcycle protective clothing star rating system will be “further promoted to help riders make better choices when it comes to buying safety gear”.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Rider’s widow urges vote for roads

The widow of a rider killed when he hit wire rope barriers has urged riders to vote in this weekend’s Victorian election for the party that pledges to improve the state’s roads.

Jan White was speaking at the Bad Roads Rally in Bendigo at the weekend.

Her husband, Phil, died a year ago when his Harley hit a kangaroo on the Calder Highway and was thrown from his bike, hitting the WRBs.

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

Jan says the most important issue to her is halting the rollout of wire rope barriers while a “proper safety review” is undertaken in consultation with motorcycle groups.

“This would have to include a review of our accident reporting systems in my strong view,” she says.

“I want to see the promise of action to make all roads safe for all vehicles on our roads, no matter if four wheels or two.”

Rally organiser Damien Codogntto of the Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria (formerly the Independent Riders Group) claimed the event attracted about 100 people, including five candidates in Saturday’s Victorian election and members of the media. 

Widow at Bad Roads Rally rally
Damien at the rally (Image: Full Throttle Ministries)

Earlier this month the Liberal Nationals promised to halt the rollout of wire rope barriers but did not advocate against their use.

MP Peter Walsh told the rally that if they attained government they would also restart the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into VIicRoads management of country roads.

On the same day as the rally, Victorian Police called for doctors to dob in old drivers and riders that they deemed unfit, lower speed limits and deploy more speed cameras.

Here is the full text of Jan’s speech:

Widow at Bad Roads Rally rally
Jan speaks at the rally

I speak today in memory of my husband Phil White and on behalf of our children, Madison, Molly, Raechel, Shane, Danielle and Chris, our family and friends. The pain of knowing how Phil died is indescribable.

On 5th November last year Phil was thrown from his motorbike and into the wire rope barriers where he died.

Make no mistake, he did not die from his bike hitting a dead kangaroo on the road. He died upon impacting the wire rope barriers.

He had no chance at all of surviving that day.  The wire rope barriers hemmed him in and were directly in his path. It could have, and should have, been different. He should have come home to us that day.

None of us will ever be the same.  I have read each and every witness statement of the events of that morning and there should be no confusion, there is no confusion of what took Phils life.  And yet, there is no mention officially implicating the wire rope barriers in my husbands death. 

Phil’s cause of death is officially listed as ” a result of multiple injuries caused from a mototcycle incident.”

We ask, where is the justice in this?  Systems need to be changed.

How many other deaths have there been to the wire rope barriers where the true cause of death is lost or filtered amidst the trail of forms, reports and people? 

There can no truth in the statistics we are fed. There is no truth in them.

Wire rope barriers promise widow vote
Wire rope barriers

In our view — Phil White’s grieving family — the road authorities have much to answer for. 

They created the only roadside hazard in that area; already known by Vic Roads to be potentially lethal to a motorcyclist. Yet there it was, the hazard that brutally stole the next 20  – 30 years of  life from Phil and from us all. The years that he was looking forward to. Gone in an instant.

And so, we stand united today, in memory of the unjust death of our husband and father and on behalf of all road users , demanding a change to the wrongs of our governing road authorities and government.

We demand the respect and consideration that we deserve as voting road users

We demand the duty of care that is our right as voting road users

We demand the right to be safe when we travel our roads as voting road users

Not just for some, but for all.

We say to you: We will not forgive, we will not forget and we will not give up.

For our husband, father and friend,  Phil White, and for all others already tragically lost to our bad roads.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com