Tag Archives: VicRoads

Report slams wire rope barrier claims

Claims about the safety and cost effectiveness of wire rope barriers have been slammed by a damning report that also found Victoria’s WRB rollout is almost $100m over budget, over time and under-maintained.

The Victorian Auditor General’s report also found there was no evidence to support the claimed safety benefits for motorcycle and scooter riders.

It vindicates much of the criticism by riders skeptical of safety claims and view wire rope barriers as a particular danger to motorcyclists and scooter riders.

While the report looks at Victoria’s rollout of various “safety measures” such as rumble strips and line markings at 20 dangerous locations, it is largely focussed on wire rope barriers with ramifications for all states.

Safety claims overrated

The WRB rollout is a major part of the state’s Towards Zero Strategy that claims “flexible barriers” or WRBs would reduce run‐off‐road and head‐on “serious causality crashes” by up to 85%.

However, the auditor’s report found VicRoads did “not have strong evidence to support this statement” and found that a 46.5% reduction was “more statistically robust”.

More importantly for riders, it found that VicRoads’ crash reduction factors were based on crash data for all vehicle types, mainly cars, not motorcycles.WRB claims

The report says the VicRoads program to target 20 known danger spots contained “no information about how effective flexible barriers are for different types of road users, such as motorcyclists and heavy vehicle drivers”.

“While the Towards Zero Strategy references two studies about the effectiveness of flexible barriers for motorcyclists, neither of these studies have enough data for VicRoads to rely on.”

Maintenance and budget

The auditor’s report also found VicRoads has “failed to properly maintain and monitor the barriers it installed, which increases the risk that they will not perform as intended”.

“If flexible barriers are not properly maintained, then their effectiveness is likely to reduce,” the report states.

Truck wire rope barriers WRBsTruck demolishes wire rope barrier (Image: Seven Network)

It also says VicRoads did not sufficiently plan its flexible barrier installation projects, leading to a budget blow-out of about 22% or $99.9m.

“While flexible safety barriers save lives and reduce serious injuries on Victoria’s roads, they are not as cost‐effective as VicRoads and TAC intended,” the report found.

Australian Motorcycle Council secretary John Eacott says the report is “as damning as the Auditor General could give for a project that has always been queried by riders in Victoria”.

“From personal experience, I can confirm that VicRoads maintenance and repair of WRB relies upon public reports, and is grossly underfunded,” he says.

Motorcycle Riders Association Road Safety Committee spokesman Damien Codognotto says they predicted “the cost of VicRoads illogical fixation on road barriers, at the expense of more effective road safety measures, would prove very bad management of our roads”.

“The claim that wire rope barriers saved lives is not credible. Victorian crash data is inadequate,” he says.

“Add the cost of unnecessary deaths, injuries and property damage and it is obvious VicRoads should be held to account. Heads should roll.”


The report recommends VicRoads and the Traffic Accident Commission develop a better business case, provide “robust” statistics, source peer-reviewed evidence sources, maintain better records and conduct “better asset management maintenance repairs”.

VicRoads and TAC have accepted all recommendations and provided a detailed action plan to address them.

Meanwhile, riders can still make submissions about the perceived dangers of wire rope barriers to a Victorian inquiry into the road toll.

Submissions to the Legislative Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee will be accepted online until 30 June 2020.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Helmet safety brake light may be illegal

A brake light that sticks to the back of a helmet and alerts tailgating drivers the rider is slowing down may be illegal in some states.

The Brake Free light is currently being crowd funded and Aussie rider Raphael Chan has signed on to receive and test the unit.

It consists of a slim unit stuck with adhesive tape that lights up whenever the rider slows, whether using the brake or just engine braking, as is often the case.Helmet safety brake light may be illegal

However, he contacted Motorbike Writer to find out if it is legal in Victoria after reading articles on our website about fines for having a camera attached to the helmet.

“Asking a police officer at the local cop shop hasn’t shed any light. He was just guessing at the answer and gave the safe answer of ‘no’ but to ask VicRoads,” he says.

“I’m trying to find out if it is a clear cut black and white NO to sticking anything to your helmet, or if it’s still open to interpretation depending on the policeman or under review for clarification.

“If it’s still a grey area, then I am prepared to risk a fine and increase my safety by testing the unit.”

Illegal in some states

Our understanding is that Victorian and South Australian police still believe it is illegal to attach anything to a helmet by any means, while NSW Police have held off issuing fines until Australian helmet rules are homogenised across all states.

That could take some time.

Meanwhile, Raphael and other supporters of this safety device to avoid being rear-ended are in a legal abyss.

The device is similar to the Smart Brake Light that we sell on our website because we believe it is a key safety feature.Helmet safety brake light may be illegal

However, that does not affect the compliance of helmets.

‘Expert advice’

We asked police and relevant departments in all states for their advice on whether Raphael would be fined for wearing the helmet.

A few replied and none was particularly certain.

Queensland Police HQ flat out refused to give legal advice. That’s strange since their officers give legal advice when they issue a fine!

How can a police officer on patrol confidently issue a ticket? How can they possibly have more knowledge on all the relevant road rules and laws than police HQ and relevant transport departments?

However, stranger things have happened and police have been found to incorrectly issue fines before.

Interestingly, Queensland Police have no concerns about action cameras and a previous state Police Minister actually suggested riders wear them for evidential reasons!

VicRoads just quoted us the usual Australian Standards stuff.

When we pointed out that the standard only applies at the point of purchase, they agreed.

They also admitted there is “no road rule specific to brake lights fitted to helmets” and said it would be open to police interpretation of the rules.

Great. So, no firm decision!

Novelty coversNovelty santa xmas motorcycle helmet cover

We had similar concerns over the legality of wearing novelty helmet covers such as Santa hats won on charity toy runs.

On both issues, most police say that so long as the attachment doesn’t interfere with the function or safety of the helmet it can be attached.

But how do we know it won’t affect the safety of the helmet?

Safety experts say helmets are designed so that in a crash and slide, nothing will catch on the ground and rotate your head, leading to neck injuries. But there is no empirical evidence to prove it does adversely affect safety.

Victorian Police were the sole objectors to Santa and other novelty helmet covers.Novelty santa xmas motorcycle helmet cover

On the issue of the brake light, they said helmets must comply to the Australian Standards.

“As far as I am aware (the standards) do not allow for the attachments to motorcycle helmets to be made,” the spokeswoman said.

South Australia police said it was an ADR issue, but the brake light is not attached to the bike, so how could that affect helmet compliance?

Western Australia police flick-passed it to the light manufacturer to work with each helmet manufacturer to ensure that the helmet remains legal according to Australian Standards when the light is attached.

That’s virtually impossible. Do they know how many helmet manufacturers there are in the world!

WA police say you cannot alter the structure of an approved helmet by drilling holes, placing stickers or painting a helmet.

“So sticky adhesive pads for accessories are dependent on the quality of the helmet,” they say.


Our answer is “user beware”!

If you’re like Raphael, you may think your safety is more important than risking the off-chance of a fine.

The onus is then on the rider to challenge a fine in court and risk the ensuing costs.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Victorian bus lane trial goes on and on …

While riders have been safely using bus lanes in NSW, the ACT and several major cities around the world for several years, Victoria is still in a protracted trial phase and other states lag even further behind.

In February, the Victorian Government announced that riders could use more bus lanes in Melbourne for the next five years, then stalled … until now.

The new trial sites from 24 July are: 

  • emergency lane and bus lane along the Eastern Freeway (citybound side of the freeway) between the Chandler Highway and Hoddle Street 
  • bus lane on Victoria Parade (citybound) between Hoddle Street and Nicholson Street 
  • Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade intersection

The eastbound bus lane on Victoria Parade will be included in the trial and announced soon.

In June, Victoria permanently allowed riders to use made the Hoddle Street bus lane (southbound) between Eastern Freeway and Victoria Parade.

Bus lane conundrum

Cyclists have been allowed to use bus lanes for years in several states without a trial and about 20 years ago motorcyclists were allowed to use NSW and ACT bus lanes.

They are also allowed to use them in cities such as London and Tel Aviv.

Bus lane in use in London lane filtering happiest commuters A British survey has found that riding a motorcycle makes you safer on a bicycle and vice versa, while other surveys show riders are the safest motorists. kerb motorists
Riders can use bus lanes in London

Yet, for some arcane reason, Australia lags behind.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense that cyclists are allowed to use bus lanes when they are much slower than buses, less visible and much more vulnerable than motorcyclists.

Back in February Victorian Motorcycle Council media spokesman John Eacott said they battled three years to get the trial extended.

“I fronted one of the senior VicRoads guys at the Minister’s Motorcycle Expert Advisory Panel after he said they were unsafe,” John said.

“I tackled him about using statistics from outside the bus lane times and he was sent away to do further research.

“At least we’ve now got this.”

However, John was concerned that the trial was being funded by the Motorcycle Safety Levy to which the VMC has long objected.

“No other section of the road-using public has to fund their own safety. It’s appalling,” he says.

Safety treatments

As part of the Victorian bus lane trial, the following “safety treatments” will be included:

  • ‘watch for motorcycles in bus lane’ warning signs;
  • motorcycle protection rails on guard rail;
  • road surface repairs to the bus lanes; and
  • signage to allow motorcyclists to use the bus hook turn from Hoddle Street on to Victoria Parade.

VicRoads will monitor and evaluate the trial sites over the next five years.

For more information refer to the VicRoads Use of Bus Lanes by Other Modes Policy.

Bus lane rules around the country

bus lanes
(Image from Maurice Blackburn Lawyers)

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have compiled this helpful guide to the use of bus lanes around the country:

  • New South Wales: motorcycles, bicycles, taxis, public hire cars, emergency services vehicles and, of course, buses are permitted in bus lanes, unless they are marked as ‘bus only’;
  • Queensland: bus lanes are for the use of buses, bicycles, taxis, limousines and emergency vehicles;
  • South Australia: buses and emergency vehicles can use bus lanes, while bicycles and taxis are also allowed into bus lanes during the times marked on the signs;
  • Tasmania: bus lanes are reserved for buses and service vehicles, as well as taxi drivers who are picking up and dropping off passengers. Other vehicles can only use the bus lanes if signs permit;
  • Victoria: bus lanes are for buses, emergency vehicles and taxi drop-off/pick-up only, unless otherwise marked. See the details above for bus lane trials;
  • Western Australia: bus lanes and busways are open only to buses and emergency vehicles unless otherwise marked. A trial was  undertaken to allow motorbikes and taxis into the bus lanes on two major Perth roads, but no further information has been released about its success or next steps.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Road repairs diverted to fix wire ropes

If riders needed another reason to reject wire rope barriers, it could be the fact that VicRoads has diverted road repair funds to fixing damaged barriers.

Riders have long been divided on whether WRBs are dangerous or not.

The Australian Motorcycle Council view is that they are not dangerous if placed correctly and not on corners. They also say they are cheaper so more funds can be devoted to safer barriers such as lower rub rails.

However, thousands disagree and have signed a petition to halt the rollout in Victoria.

The petition was launched last year by Liberal MP Richard Riordan (Polwarth) at the request of widow Jan White. Her husband , Phil, was killed when his Harley hit a kangaroo on the Calder Highway in November 2017. He was thrown from his bike and hit the WRBs, knocking down four posts.

CLICK HERE if you want to the sign the anti-WRB petition. (You don’t have to live in Victoria to sign the petition. Anyone who rides in Victoria can sign.)

Funds diverted

Bad Roads Rally roadworks potholes Victoria road hazards bump diverted
Rural Victorian road

Now Richard has exposed that VicRoads diverted taxpayer funds from country road repairs to fix damaged wire rope barriers.

Motorcycle Riders Association of Victoria spokesman Damien Codognotto says that as well as safety concerns, wire rope barriers come at a high maintenance cost.

“Wire rope barriers have a shorter working life and are much more easily damaged than w-beam steel or concrete barriers,” he says.

“VicRoads has publicly admitted that more than 3000 repairs had to be done on wire rope barrier in a year.

“Each repair requires a truck, special tools spare parts and a trained crew of at least two. It has to be the most expensive barrier type ever used in Victoria.

“VicRoads and TAC believed their own hype and spent $ billions on wire rope barrier. They did not budget for the repair costs.”

He says the result is that money was “quietly diverted” from fixing rural roads and keeping them in safe condition to cover their “financial/safety blunder”.

Meanwhile, the State Government has only budgeted $425 million allocated to fixing rural roads this financial year and there is now talk of reducing the country speed limit to 80km/h.

Safety concerns

Damien says safety concerns about wire rope barriers were vindicated by a crash last week on the Monash Freeway where a small SUV flatted the barriers and hit a concrete bridge.

“The wire rope barrier was placed specifically placed to stop cars hitting the bridge,” he says.

“It failed. Four people went to hospital. One critical. The car was destroyed. The freeway was closed during the morning traffic peak period.

“How much did all that cost?

“Time and again the media records wire rope barrier not performing as promoted by VicRoads and TAC. People are getting hurt and killed.”

He says barrier crashes such as on the Monash Freeway, are generally not recorded in VicPol accident reports.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Why the resistance to driver training?

Despite motorcycle riders calling for more driver training and awareness of riders, authorities continue to resist for a variety of reasons.

Riders believe better trained drivers would be more aware of them and rules such as lane filtering, making their ride safer.

However, politicians and authorities usually reject driver training as being expensive, promoting hooning and unfair for people in remote areas who would have difficulty accessing further training.

Longtime rider advocate John Nelson points out other erroneous arguments in the article “The effectiveness of driver training as a road safety measure” by former VicRoads officer Ron Christie which appeared in the RACV magazine Royal Auto.

Basically it says that there is no empirical evidence that advanced training reduces crashes or makes drivers better or changes their behaviour. You can read the full report here.

Since there is no research into how motorcycle awareness and education about lane filtering affects drivers, there is also no evidence that shows it doesn’t affect behaviour and skills.

John says motorcycle awareness should be trialled it to see if it does have benefits.

Driver training agendaMotorcycle car blind spot safety crash driver training

“I am sure (Ron) was paid a handsome sum for this article to support the VicRoads agenda and silence and oppose advocacy of driver education,” he says.

“He had his finger in the pie with the statement that Vicroads will not do anything that could be construed as encouraging motorcycles.  He hates bikes and change.  

“There is a big difference between driver training and driver education.  We are all taught the three Rs in schools.  Why not driver education?  

“Attitudes, discipline, behaviour and knowledge are not taught to those who want to drive.  All they are taught is to pass the license test.”

John points out that teachers are required to have a university degree before teaching kids, but parents and driver instructors aren’t.

“The government seems hell bent on enforcement and revenue over education,” he says.  

“If a lot more road users behaved and complied with speed limits and other popular traffic offences there would be a short fall in the Victorian Budget.  

“Victoria has factored in $400 million into the ‘19-‘20 budget.  If there is a major drop in traffic related revenue the government would look at other means of raising that short fall.  It is a vicious circle.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

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
99 104 113 100 85 100
Gender 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
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
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 2018 2019 Change % change 5 year
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
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
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