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Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Motorcycle accidents - half-truths and lies?


On April 16th, I posted a piece about motorcycle safety in New Zealand.  I won't repeat it in detail as the article is here: Road Skills - what keeps you from harm?.

What I will summarise however is that:

Firstly, vehicle licensing costs for motorcyclists are due to rise substantially and the reason is likely based on either flawed/incompetent assumptions by public policy makers or even worse, a deliberate political agenda. This is bad enough but it does nothing to address the root causes of accidents, leaving motorcyclists still open to harm as well as being a waste of taxpayer money from probable inappropriate use of increased revenue.

Secondly, the protests and suggestions for safety improvements by NZ motorcyclists have apparently fallen on the deaf ears of public servants.

However, motorcyclists have found support from a prominent NZ academic, Professor Charley Lamb, Head of Business Management, Law and Marketing at Lincoln University.  Charley is also Director of the Australasian Institute of Motorcycle Studies (AIMS) Project. Using the same base data available to the public servants (including the police), he has dispelled the "myths" that public policy towards motorcyclists is being based on.  This research has only reached public domain the last few days so it's too early to tell whether the sh*t will hit the fan, or whether the research will be conveniently ignored.  He's off to the U.S at the end of the week to present his research there so keep your eyes peeled! I have a full copy of  Professor Lamb's research, plus his slide presentation and am happy to make it available on request (My contact email is under the blog profile).  However, I thought I'd attach a few of his summary slides to give some background and an indicator of the myths he has dispelled. (Click to enlarge) This is important for motorcyclists everywhere, particularly for public policy setting.  Incidentally, Professor Lamb's material is not inconsistent with UK research: Car Drivers’ Skills and Attitudes to Motorcycle Safety: A Review  and IAM Motorcycling Facts.

The following slides hopefully show NZ public policy is being based on flawed interpretations (or deliberate political connivance!) and that's a warning for us all.  The only major thing I'd like to add to Charley Lamb's recommendations is raising the level of compulsory training for car drivers and motorcyclists alike.  The standard of car driving in NZ is lamentably poor and most drivers seem to think that once they have a license, no further driver education is required.  Incidentally, the reference to "red mist" concerning the police in his recommendations is some recent pursuits which have gone badly wrong.  I'm a supporter of the police as they have an unenviable task but having said that, some recent pursuits have exposed some flaws in the system.

ADDENDUM
I might also add that whilst motorcyclists in NZ and elsewhere may be unfairly penalised by flawed policy, there's still a lot we can do to help ourselves.  The motorcycle community in general tend to be scornful of the lack of skill or situational awareness displayed by the average car driver.  That may be true but experience shows that there's an awful lot of riders out there who also display a lack of skill and improved situational awareness would also substantially improve the accident rate.   From a survey which American motorcycle author David Hough and I conducted, resistance to re-skill or upskill is widespread.  I put my money where my mouth was and enrolled with the Institute of Advanced Motorists and whilst I've been riding for 40+ years, the learnings since joining have been humbling and somewhat ego-denting too.  There are some later posts on my experiences - just type IAM or Institute of Advanced Motorists into the blog search engine.  Yes, we can moan about the "I didn't see you mentality" of many motorists, but it's entirely up to us to get off our backsides and improve our own roadcraft skill sets!

I hope that the slides  below provided by Prof. Lamb are of interest.

13 comments:

  1. Geoff:

    we have the same problem here where drivers should be more educated, esp left turning ones who cause most accidents but the blame is always upon the rider.

    Rider inexperience with too much power or too heavy weight-wise, for single m/c accidents. There should be a graduated system to work your way up, like in the UK. Perhaps 125cc for a while before moving up. As it is now you can get a learners (Novice) and purchase a Hayabusa or R1 .

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  2. Hi Bob,
    We have the same structure of the UK mercifully but from what I experienced when I did my advanced courses, entry level training for both cars and motorcyclists is completely inadequate and that's why I'm pushing for a higher level of compulsion as opposed to voluntary post-license training.

    The Germans are a pretty good model when it comes to taking training more seriously.

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  3. Hi Geoff, great post, I will be sharing it around, thanks. I took the time to put in a submission re the ACC and also the Safer Journeys submissions requested around the same time. The High Concern factors Reducing alcohol/drug impaired driving; Increasing the safety of young drivers; Safer roads and roadsides; Safer speeds; Increasing the safety of motorcycling. Funny how they came up at the same time, but the Ministry of Transport did not complain about the way its statistics were being abused but Govt/ACC- all politics I guess...

    http://www.transport.govt.nz/saferjourneys/

    windingroad

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  4. Thanks John,

    I'm passionate about raising riding/driving standards and I was disappointed not to have any feedback on my submissions which has certainly alienated me!

    Cheers,

    Geoff

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  5. Geoff:

    new legislation directed at motorcyclists in British Columbia

    http://www.bcsportbikes.com/forum/showthread.php?t=121880

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  6. Sorry Bob, I'm denied access for some reason

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  7. Geoff:

    I just copied and pasted the link . . . and it works for me. It must be your aged and feeble hands not clicking the mouse correctly. You need to firmly click the right button as you copy, and snap the left button when you paste

    hope this helps. either that or go to the home page bcsportbikes.com and click form and select "general sportbike chat"

    bob
    Wet Coast Scootin

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  8. No go on either count. It says my IP address is banned. Suspect that it only recognises local (Canadian/BC?)IP addresses or is programmed to detect feeble-bodied and feeble-minded Kiwis :-)

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  9. A good post, as are some of your others.
    There is no sensible or reasonable way to prevent all accidents, but there is a long way to go in driver education and better training which make far more sense than emotive, media-driven campaigns 'against' some groups (like motorcyclists) or just charging more ACC. And as a 3-vehicle owner (2 m'cycles, 1 car), I do resent paying 3 lots of ACC when I only drive/ride one at a time and don't lend them out to all my mates (the weak excuse for charging per vehicle).

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  10. Anon:
    Thanks for the kind words. We have 2 cars and 1 bike between 2 of us and are in much the same boat as you. I'm opposed to ripping us off based on questionable statistics but having said that, all of us are primarily responsible for our own safety and better skills for all helps that.

    Thanks for dropping by!

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  11. THis blog effectively says what I was meaning! Just done better. I am sure you understand what I am getting at though. Sometimes I find it diffucult to put my frustration into words. Charely has covered that well.

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  12. Motorcycles are really prone to accidents and if they are not equipped properly with guidelines and procedures, surely an accident will happen. In times of accident, victims are being assisted well by the local government in our town in Ottawa. Personal injury lawyer are also handling their case to ensure that the victim gets the justice that he wants.

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  13. You certainly are more prone to accidents on a bike Mike. However post-accident litigation is really the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. Important, but nowhere as important of raising driving standards in addressing root cause.

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