Car drivers, not bike riders, need safety education — WA motorcyclists

CAPTION: The most dangerous time and place in motorcycling is being on a bike, at peak hour, in fading light, wanting to turn at an intersection. A safety campaign focusing on excessive speed has been welcomed, but might not be the most effective safety target.

WEST AUSTRALIAN motorcyclists have reacted with cynicism to a State Government safety campaign that encourages riders to slow down.

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The $850,000 campaign, launched this weekend to coincide with the Australian Moto GP, is centred on a television advertisement showing that risks get bigger as speed increases.

Road Safety Minister Michelle Roberts says of the 196 people who died on WA roads last year, 40 were motorcyclists.

“I really hope the key message from this campaign – don’t push it, ride to arrive – will make a difference to the riding behaviour of our target audience of male riders aged 30 to 49, and ultimately save lives,” Mrs Roberts said.

“Speed makes small hazards become big hazards, increasing the danger for the motorcycle rider, their pillion passenger and other road users.”

But the initial response to the campaign has been largely negative, with riders suggesting it’s the behaviours of car drivers — not bike riders — that can have the biggest impact on improving motorcycle safety on WA roads.

Simon Mykolajenko told The Bike Shed TimesFacebook page: “I’d rather see an ‘If I see you using your phone while you’re driving, I’ll bash you with it’ campaign. That would make us a lot less vulnerable on the road.”

Terry Carter encouraged the Government to spend money on other initiatives: “Fix the roads, then how about some subsidised rider training like the Labor Government started with Honda back in 1990? Then throw some money at the (Barbagallo) track so the ‘hot heads’ can get their speed fix safely.”

CAPTION: Several riders have encouraged the Government to address issues that have closed Wanneroo Raceway. The Barbagallo circuit has historically been used for advanced rider training — and as a place where riders can satisfy their ‘need for speed’ in a controlled environment. It’s been almost a year since the track was closed due to safety concerns.

Some riders claimed WA’s speed limits were unnecessarily low, while Barry Roberts defending rider behaviour.

“I’m actually surprised at how steady most WA motor cycle riders are,” Barry said.

“We don’t live up to the reputation! Many of us are mature and have years of experience and while I still have to tell myself to behave, I am aware where my limits are. Yes, there are a few young guns who like to give it some beans but even they are, in my opinion, quite calculating.”

The Bike Shed Times Editor, Peter Terlick, said it was encouraging to see the McGowan Government spending money on motorcycle safety.

“But I’m not convinced they are talking to the right audience, nor that speed is our biggest safety issue,” he said.

“I would have preferred a campaign that encouraged car drivers to always look twice at intersections; to be bike aware.”

CAPTION: Last year’s safety review proposed many safety initiatives; speed was not as big a factor as expected.

Mr Terlick said he had asked the Government for an update on the implementation of last year’s WA Motorcycle Safety Review.

“The review made some intelligent suggestions based on good science, but the (previous) Minister’s response was basically a dumbed-down ‘just tell ’em to slow down’ comment.”

The safety review found that in more than 60% of the fatal or catastrophic crashes that were studied, there was no involvement of alcohol, drugs, speed or inattention. Instead,  ‘failure to give way’ was identified as Perth’s dominant bike-crash problem.

(See the new TV advert here, last year’s safety review here, and Editor Terlick’s rant on the review here.)

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2 Comments on "Car drivers, not bike riders, need safety education — WA motorcyclists"

  1. Make everyone ride a scooter for a week, perhaps as part of the fine/demerit process.

  2. The age of the destracted driver is with us to stay. The mobile phone and texting drivers is epidemic. Using speed as the go-to safety slogan is naive and dangerous. It blinds safety researchers from looking at the underlying isssues behind accidents. Speed is easily penalised and forms a great tax fund for whatever the current government decides to use it on. Simplistic solutions have been around for years. Car drivers could have part of their ongoing education with instruction to take more care at junctions. I would add that I find car drivers no worse in relation to motorcycles than they are in general road usage. Where motorcyclists reputation for speed may stem from is the rapid acceleration we exhibit away from the lights. Many times recently I have watched as multi wheeled vehicles catch me and overtake me, well over the limit.

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