Sunday, April 29, 2012

Get real about rider safety

EDIT: Please visit this petition and add your name to the list.  We need to band together to get TAC to start approaching Motorcycle Safety more effectively.

Hi, my name is Ross, and I ride a motorcycle.  I've been riding for 3 years.

2011 was a pretty bad year for me, injury wise.  About half way through the year I had a pretty nasty fall and managed to break a bone in my foot.

A few weeks off riding for that one.

Only a few months after that, I had another nasty accident that resulted in me ripping a flap open in my scalp.  I probably should have gone to hospital for that one, but I didn't.  I was pretty lucky on that occasion, it could have been much worse.

Since I started riding in 2009 I have covered more than 50,000 kilometres on my bike, mostly commuting in city traffic in and out of Melbourne.  I have riden at all times of day and night, in all kinds of weather, all year round.  And I have not had a single accident on the bike.

The injuries above have both happened around the house.  I managed to trip over (actually, into) a baby gate and fall down the stairs, braking my foot; and I attempted to scalp myself by standing up into a sheet of corrugated iron roofing while transporting a cubby house for my daughters.  By all accounts I am safer out on my motorbike than I am being left to my own devices at home.

Being safe on the motorbike is not a matter of luck; there are many things that I do every time I ride to ensure that I am as safe as I can possibly be.  These things range from the protective gear that I wear through to choosing the time of day that I ride, which lane I travel in on the freeway, and where I position myself in my lane at any given point in time. If motorcycle safety was as simple as "don't speed" then I could relax and I would have a lot less to worry about, but the reality is that it is a lot more complicated than that.

I know several riders who have had accidents or incidents and come off their bikes.  Some have been injured, most have gotten up and dusted themselves off.  One friend got knocked off their bike on the freeway, and walked away with only a bruise or two.  One friend lost control of their bike, ran off the road, and died.

Do you know how many of those accidents and incidents were caused by exceeding the speed limit, and would have been prevented if only the rider had travelled at the posted speed?

None.  Not a single one.

In one case the rider was travelling too fast; not that they were speeding, they were not exceeding the speed limit, but they were riding faster than they were capable of, and they lacked the skills to control the bike.  They lacked experience on the bike they were riding, lacked the judgement to realise that they were riding beyond their abilities, and it cost them their life.  In the other cases, the riders fell victim to some of the other hazards we confront every day: target fixation, gravel on the roads, cars changing lanes without checking their mirrors or blind spot.  How many of these accidents could have been avoided if the riders had seen the latest TAC campaign on motorcycle safety?


Wake up TAC.  The time has come to get real about rider safety.  Most of us riders are already playing our part - how about you do yours?

EDIT: Please visit this petition and add your name to the list.  We need to band together to get TAC to start approaching Motorcycle Safety more effectively.

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