Friday 21st

Sunday 23rd September: Mini and MX open. Freshly groomed. Weather forecast is good and free sausage sizzle at lunch time.

The Invisibility Battle

Too many accidents make the headlines

maddix park mx

Accidents involving motorcycles make the headlines in the local news, and not usually for good reasons.

The MOT has a road safety strategy for motorcyclists and in 2009 this related to 4 areas :

1. Targeted route improvements, ie road surfaces, crash barriers etc.

2. Safer motorcycles for novice riders through limiting the power to weight ratio of

motorcycles to 150kw/tonne (0.15kw/kg).

3. Improve rider training and licensing.

4. Improve training and licensing of those returning to ride motorcycles.

However whilst these initiatives are admirable, and may go some way toward reducing the motorcycle accident rate, they still, fundamentally do not address the single largest determinant of accidents. In accidents involving a motorcycle and another motor vehicle, the biggest factor is the problem of the visibility of the motorcyclist. Other road users just do not see motorcyclists.

The main reason motorcycles are “invisible” is because of their size and their thin shape. The other driver expects their peripheral vision to alert them to the presence of other vehicles. However, the narrow visual profile of motorcycles often makes them more difficult to detect. Larger motorcycles, such as those with windshields and fairings, are less represented in the accident statistics.

Other vehicle drivers also do not “see motorcyclists” because of their inability to judge the speed of an approaching motorcycle.

Visibility can be affected by the weather, of course.  However, compromised visibility caused by rain and fog increases accident numbers rather than just a wet road.

So what can motorcyclists do to improve their visibility to other road users?

Only so much. Wearing high visibility clothing certainly helps but cannot be the only answer. Also, it is now thought that colour contrast makes a rider more conspicuous than brighter clothing. Riding with their headlights on at all times can help as well but evidence is not conclusive.

The best way to make motorcycles visible would be to get everyone to ride one. Studies show that car drivers who also hold motorcycle licenses are less likely to be involved in a motorcycle accident when driving a car so clearly, knowledge about and experience with motorcycles is a potentially critical component in reducing this type of accident. 

Everyone as a motorcyclist or ex-motorcyclist is perhaps a little optimistic and obviously totally unrealistic. So what is the next best way?

A road safety campaign targeting all other road users that clearly highlights the small visual profile of motorcycles would certainly benefit motorcyclists. There would likely be positive spill-over effects, as the same campaign would also benefit those riding motor scooters and bicycles. (Accident statistics for cyclists in 2008 were similar to motorcyclists with 1179 accidents, 36 deaths and 93% of the reported accidents involving another vehicle).

Clearly, enhancing visibility should be a primary focus for motorists, governments, and organisations concerned with road safety. Given the rather high proportion of other vehicles found at fault, it would also seem prudent to focus a substantial portion of training efforts on drivers of other types of vehicles.

These are the conclusions of a Lincoln University Study headed by Charles (Charly) Lamb, Head of business management, Law and Marketing and Director Australasian Institute of Motorcycle Studies Project at Lincoln University.

The study also considers several “motorcycle accident myths” and says government claims that motorcyclists are to blame for 87% of accidents are wrong – and provides statistics to prove it.  

To read the study in full go to

 http://grtclub.blogtown.co.nz/files/2010/05/Causal-Factors-in-MVMAs-V5-HAND-OUT-19-May-2010.pdf

 
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