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.
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.