Motorcycle Safety – Bigger Than Borders

We have submitted a response to the Road Safety Authority (RSA) consultation which seeks to obtain the input and views of a broad range of stake holders on the enhancement of motorcycle safety on Irish roads through the development of a fully integrated Motorcycle Safety Action Plan.

Although this Motorcycle Safety Plan is specific to Southern Ireland, there are issues contained in the Motorcycle Safety Action Plan that will undoubtedly affect motorcyclists in Northern Ireland.

We contacted our colleagues in MAG Ireland, The Irish Motorcyclists’ Action Group  with whom we have maintained links through previous collaboration both in Ireland and in the European Union. However, we wish to make clear that the views expressed in our consultation response do not necessarily reflect those of MAG Ireland.

In motorcycling terms there has always been an “open” border between Northern and Southern Ireland with motorcyclists travelling between the “physical” boundaries, which are both part of the European Union.

Motorcyclists in Ireland as individuals and as a “community”, travel North and South both for business (commuting) and leisure activities (motorcycle events such as road races – motorcycle meetings e.g. rallies, charity runs and touring). These riders spend signification sums of money in their travels, which can be a substantial source of income to the business community

The primary actions of the Motorcycle Safety Action Plan seek to reduce the proportion, number and severity of motorcyclist casualties occurring on Ireland’s Roads by 2012, through co-ordinated and multi-disciplinary programmes relating to Engineering – Roads Planning and Design / Road Safety Engineering, Equipment, Enforcement, Education and Evaluation.

We commend the approach of a multi multi-disciplinary programme relating to Engineering, Equipment, Enforcement, Education and Evaluation. This approach is a sensible model to follow, especially the inclusion of education,  but the focus must not only be on motorcyclists in isolation.

We have added that “Engagement” with the motorcycle community, individual riders, clubs, groups and associations is fundamental to improve or promote safety measures, so that motorcycling needs are considered as fully as any other  transport mode, in the development of transport policy.

We highlighted our concerns about the suggestion to amend Road Traffic Legislation in order to allow Gardaí to prosecute riders who are not appropriately dressed (e.g. in shorts and sandles).

The motorcycling community is safety conscious and riders purchase protective clothing worth hundreds of thousands of euros, therefore the use of personal protective equipment should NOT be made compulsory, not least because any decision by an individual police officer would be entirely subjective.

Also, as an example, the response to a questionnaire by BikeSafe Northern Ireland, demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of motorcyclists use correct protective clothing (up to 96%) depending on the type of clothing.

We also raised our concerns about the suggestion to introduce regulations for the mandatory wearing of sleeved high visibility upper body clothing for rider and pillion passenger. We asked the question, “What evidence is there that Hi Visibility jackets will reduce casualties?”

Numerous reports on motorcycle accident causation identify the car driver failing to see the motorcyclists in the majority of collisions.  This is due to lack of awareness of motorcyclists, in spite of the fact that the vast majority of motorcycles are now hard wired to have the lights on all the time. This problem presents the urgency of training for car drivers to include awareness of motorcyclists, as well as campaigns to raise awareness of car drivers to look for motorcyclists.

The DOE Road Safety Branch in Northern Ireland is currently initiating a new road safety strategy including Motorcycle Safety as a key issue.

Our recommendation is that both “agencies” should be in contact to identify the similarities or differences of motorcycle safety across the borders of Ireland, rather than rely on general information from the Europe Union which may have no significant meaning for Ireland.

Follow the link for our detailed response – pdf 141kb Click Here

Follow the link for MAG Irelands detailed response – pdf 31kb Click Here

For consultation – 873kb Click Here

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