Riding Forward – Road Safety

Right To Ride has responded to the Department of the Environment’s (DOE) consultation paper, “Preparing a ROAD SAFETY STRATEGY for Northern Ireland 2010-20 20/20 Vision: Driving Forward Road Safety”.

The consultation seeks to improve not only motorcycle safety but safety for all road users. We generally agree with the positive spirit of the consultation paper, but we have concerns about some of the action measures.

We have welcomed the “consideration” of a motorcycling safety strategy for Northern Ireland and the establishment of a Motorcycle Forum which would consider an inclusive and strategic approach to motorcycling.

The consultation sets out several possible measures that would be considered, investigated or introduced.

These include a proposal to introduce different speed limits for motorcycles; improving safety for motorcyclists through technology and further research; measures to increase the visibility of motorcyclists e.g. through the use of fluorescent strips on jackets, helmets etc; promoting the use of high standard motorcycle protective wear; introducing a statutory requirement for vehicles over testable age to hold a valid test certificate at all times unless excused under limited exemptions.

Our concerns regarding the implementation of these measures include:

  • The proposal to introduce different speed limits for motorcycles is in our view, ill conceived and dangerous and will put riders at risk.
  • Further research to ensure the safety of motorcyclists is welcomed however there has not been sufficient attention given to improved training for other vehicle users and motorcyclists.
  • Mandatory fluorescent strips, these are given as examples which would imply other measures may be considered as well. There is no reliable evidence available to demonstrate that high visibility jackets or fluorescent strips make any difference in reducing motorcycle crashes.
  • The majority of riders in Northern Ireland recognise that personal protective equipment may help to reduce injuries and death. Accordingly riders have purchased protective clothing worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. This measure would need to focus on relevant information such as the SHARP helmet standards.
  • The voluntary development of technology by manufacturers enhances production and consumer choice. However we question the value of mandatory “safety” technology as this would stifle innovation and progress.
  • The introduction of a statutory requirement for vehicles over testable age to hold a valid test certificate at all times unless excused under limited exemptions. Right To Ride disagrees with this, if we understand this action measure, a vehicle would need to have a test certificate if not used on the road. But a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) declaration may have been made, so this seems an attempt to get money from classic vehicle owners or those who collections of vehicles, rather than for safety purposes.

With huge cuts in the Northern Ireland budget, that will affect government departments, the implementation of a road safety strategy must be relevant, reliable and cost effective.

Focus should be on involving local stakeholders and a joined up campaign to get the message through to Northern Ireland road users.

Money wasted on useless shock, horror campaigns, websites that are never updated and (expensive) external consultants could be better spent by tapping into the wealth of knowledge of local experts to find appropriate solutions to reduce casualties on the roads of Northern Ireland.

Right To Ride Response to the consultation pdf 324kb – Click Here 
Full details of consultation – Click Here 
Motorcycle Safety in Northern Ireland – The Rider’s Perspective – Revised Sept 2009 pdf 2.9mb – Click Here 
Workshop on Motorcycling Safety – Final Report – June 2008 pdf 514kb – Click Here 
Workshop on Motorcycling Safety – Annexes to the Final Report – June 2008 pdf 6.14mb – Click Here 
Top Priorities Identified by the Workshop – June 2008  pdf 155kb – Click Here 

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