Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Last night at about 9:15 a motorcyclist collided with a car that did a u-turn in front of him.  He died as a result of this collision, and my deepest sympathies go out to this man's friends and family.

The accident occurred on a straight stretch of road with relatively unobstructed visibility of oncoming traffic.

 It took place after dark, when the headlight of the bike should have been clearly visible.  Based on the image below it appears that the bike struck the front passenger door of the vehicle.  I would guess that he struck roughly 2 metres from the front of the car.

How long does it take for a car to move forwards 2 metres into the path of an oncoming motorcycle?  That is about how much time this rider had to react.

In light of all this, I would have thought that the message from this accident would be clear: cars, look out for bikes.  Regardless of what speed the motorcycle was travelling, provided his headlight was on there is no reason why this car would not have seen him.

I honestly would have thought this is a clear wake up call for drivers to look twice for bikes.  I would have thought this would be the moment to remind all road users of their responsibility to take care.

Here is what Inspector Martin Tynan said:

"We are in the vicinity of Turner St and Napean Highway in Moorabbin, and the situation tonight is that at about a quarter past nine we've had a motorcycle hit the side of a motor vehicle, and the force of the impact has caused that motor vehicle to flip onto its side.  Unfortunate byproduct of it is that is that the motorcyclist has passed away, and we have two people - elderly people - from the car have been taken to hospital.

"I wonder sometimes what more we can do.  We are out there, we have police on the road everywhere, we are an enormously visible police presence.  The message is going out through every form of media that speed kills, to slow down.  The current TAC ads relate specifically to motorcyclists, yet here we are, again, going through this process.  It's a very frustrating process for myself and my members, and it's got an enormous impact on everyone: not just the relatives of the deceased, but the whole community suffer from this.

"Look, anyone that rides a motorbike, anyone at all, I implore them to just be aware of where they are, and just slow down."

I am disgusted beyond words that in the same breath as announcing this fatality, that Inspector Tynan has condemned the rider in an accident where the car clearly failed to give way with absolutely tragic consequences.

This commentary justifies the concerns of riders that the "safety message" portrayed in the latest TAC campaign reinforces the anti-rider mentality of blaming the motorcyclist, whatever the circumstances may be.

In the wake of this latest preventable tragedy, I would like for 3 things to take place:
  1. The immediate suspension or resignation of Inspector Tynan for his grossly inappropriate conduct in blaming and vilifying the victim of last night's accident.
  2. The immediate retraction of the TAC's "Motorcycle Reconstruction" campaign, and replacing all further airtime and billboard usage either with the Vice Versa campaign from TACs own collection or with Queensland's Out There campaign.
  3. The immediate appointment of an Ambassador for Motorcycle Safety to the board of the TAC, with discretionary powers to oversee the execution of safety campaigns and initiatives relating to motorcycle safety.
We cannot continue to exonerate this type of driving.  We cannot continue to reinforce the message that it is the rider's fault for choosing to ride.  We cannot continue to dishonour the deaths of Victorian motorcyclists in this way.

EDIT: I have had it pointed out to me that the amount of force required to tip that Honda CRV is not consistent with the bike travelling at the speed limit.  Extrapolating that, it appears I am overly harsh in my assessment of Inspector Tynan's comments. We know that it is difficult to estimate the speed of an oncoming motorcycle, especially at night.  We riders don't help ourselves if our speed is above the marked speed.  While drivers need to know a gap is safe before pulling out, not assume it is safe, riders too need to take responsibility for themselves.  I'll reserve any further comments until the coroner's report reveals the estimated speed of the incident.


  1. Amen.

    I'm north of the border from you guys and the way I've observed VicPol and TAC conduct themselves is ridiculous! Not looking forward to my move to Melbourne this year.

  2. My son was driving a car following the motorcycle in the accident you mentioned. The motorcycle was travelling at the speed of the traffic, the speed limit.

    The car span around and rolled over with most of the motorcycle energy and the riders energy transfered directly to the vehicle which was hit in the rear door and rolled due to its high center of gravity.

    My son listed his name etc with the police, they should interview him before implying speed caused the accident.

    1. Thanks for this... I hope your son is OK, can't have been a pleasant experience. :(

    2. Thank you for posting this information. If he hasn't been contacted by tomorrow I'd encourage your son to either drop in to a police station or call crime stoppers and make a statement. I believe that the preliminary police report indicates excessive speed; it would be good to have his statement on the record.

      More importantly though, I hope that your son is ok, and on behalf of Victoria's motorcyclists I want to thank him for stopping to give his details to the police as a witness of the accident.

    3. Have the police made contact with your son yet? If not, I'd love to hear from him - he can drop me a line if he's willing to rossdaws [at] gmail [dot] com ... I'm quite upset about this (as you can probably tell!)


  3. It is a deeply saddening event, and the lack of tact in handling this matter is becoming depressingly commonplace.

    It is unfortunate, but it does seem plausible that the motorcyclist was exceeding the speed limit, and if so then that will no doubt have contributed to the severity of the resulting impact.

    I don't condone speeding, but nor do I believe that the fact that a motorist (regardless of whether they were on a motorcycle or not) was exceeding the speed limit automatically absolves other road users of any responsibility or culpability in the event of a collision.

    If the rider was speeding that that was foolish, and not least because it excaserbated the potential risks of his situation. It makes it more difficult for other motorists to accurately determine if there is time to safely cross the road (or U-Turn) among other things, when some folks seem to have difficulty enough with that when it comes to bikes even at the best of times.

    But it does not render him invisible. It does not remove the onus on other motorists to exercise due care when turning across the flow of traffic.

    Despite the way this sounds when listening to the police statement, the rider was a victim in this tragic event, and he paid the ultimate price; not just because he *may* have been speeding, but because another motorist did not cede him his right of way when travelling along a straight, relatively unobstructed stretch of road in a situation where even at speed his headlight should have been clearly visible.

    Take care out there folks. Ride sensibly. Assume idiots will *not* see you, and actively try to squish you. Be careful, and get home safe...

  4. If the police and the TAC really wanted to lower the number of people dying on the roads they would spend a large percentage of the speed camera revenue for driver education, not on ads justifying the use of speed cameras.
    But they are too addicted to their revenue to actually do something that sensible.

    I agree that the latest rider ad is terrible and is targeting only a percentage of all riders out there, it doesn't do anything except give people an excuse for blaming the rider even if they are in the wrong.

    My condolences to the riders family and friends.

  5. In circumstances like this I don't think the blame can be put on either party - especially extrapolating that from a short statement heard from the news. Police have community need to condone speed, regardless of whether it was involved in the accident or not.

    While i understand the need to stick up for riders, i think placing the blame on the car is the same as placing the blame on the rider. What if he was in the middle or left lane instead of the right? What if he slowed down in anticipation of the car? Why did he not brake when he saw the car starting to move? There are too many what-if's. Why are people in car more "idiots" than "idiots" on bikes?

    While i can't say whether speed was or wasn't an issue, the car was pushed well back from where it would have been making the turn and the impact seemed to be quite severe.

    While i didn't see the accident (the car in front of me was blocking my view), i saw the smoke from the impact and was one of the first people to check on the rider after it happened (as well as the couple in the car).

    I wasn't able to recall whether a bike had passed me just before it happened and whether it was coming from stop at a red light or not. My mind was more concerned with the people.

    All I'm trying to say is it was an accident - neither should be to blame. And now the rider, their family + friends, the couple in the car as well as everyone who stopped have to deal with that forever now.

    The rider was pretty badly injured from the accident and i wouldn't want anyone to have to deal with seeing that, and I'm very glad that more people were not killed in this accident.

  6. No-one to blame?
    The car driver failed to give way and someone died as a result.
    How the heck can you not say someone was to blame?!

    By saying we shouldn't blame anyone we are effectively saying it doesn't matter if you run across the path of someone and kill them - we don't blame you!


  7. All I'm saying is you need to take the circumstances into consideration.

    Using your example, what if a person ran out in front of a car without looking? What if they tripped? What if they were pushed accidentally by someone else?

    In this case the rider may have been doing 200km/h with their lights off. You can't immediately say it was either the riders or the cars fault.

    A rider needs to take 100x more care, because in accidents they usually come off 2nd best.

    The whole premise of an accident is that it is not intentional and possibly 50-100 small factors come to the end result as a whole (from both the rider, the driver, weather, light/visibility) which cause the end result. It is many shades of grey and not sure how you can put a single black/white contributor when you were there and also you're going off a generic police statement on the news.

  8. As a friendly law enforcement officer once told me "there are no accidents, merely collisions".