Commissioning Safety!

polite-250 The Belfast Telegraph reports that Mark Durkin, Minister for the Department Of the Environment (DOE), has commissioned a new motorcycle safety campaign.  Quoting the minister as stating that “as motorcycle deaths have shown a particular rise, and, statistically, riding a motorcycle carries the highest risk of any road use.”

Recently RTR was interviewed by the research company looking at this new campaign and as part of the Road Safety Forum Chaired by the Minister, Right To Ride provides input into motorcycle safety and general road safety issues.

As motorcyclists we generally wear protective clothing as well as wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing.  We also make ourselves conspicuous with our hard-wired headlights on; we take further post test training such as advanced riding – either through IAM – RoSPA and BikeSafe rider PSNI assessments.

But is all of this enough are we doing the best we can – could we enhance our riding Collision-Avoidance Skills?

However while we do all of this what about other vehicle users?

While a Road Traffic Amendment Bill may see a Graduated Driving Licence for new (young drivers) with some focus on rider awareness,  what about current drivers who from the general thoughts in the motorcycle community do not care about riders?

Our own thoughts are that awareness of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds should become a compulsory element in initial driver training and licensing.

Awareness campaigns should be implemented or reviewed, especially to encourage car drivers to recognise that although they looked, they still might not have seen a rider.   Other issues to consider are the “physical” way the eye works on  ‘inattentional blindness’ and other factors such as looming and motion camouflage as well as car design such as the A Pillars blocking their view.

Although the “Sorry Mate I did Not See You”-  or SMIDSY is a reality that needs addressing.

There is a real problem of car drivers not recognising motorcycles – especially at junctions and as a consequence, this is a major cause of collision between motorcycles and cars (or vans).

Part of the problem is due to expectation – or simply that car drivers are not expecting to “see” motorcycles.

The other issue is that motorcyclists do not understand that they are seriously at risk because of “inattentional blindness” and other factors.

This is a very important issue which trainers and educators need to address.

Educational and Instructional

bikiesgasmask-250Road safety needs to be educational and instructional not rhetorical with “shock horror” as seen in the attempt of graphically gruesome TV advertisements from the DOE (Department Of The Environment) that now appear not to have actually worked.

There is a difference in having millions of “hits” on You Tube as a “viral success”.  However,  perhaps people are only watching in this age of Social Media voyeurism, because of the pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others, or simply because the advertisement is just so tacky and bad, it has become viral.

The ads broadcasted in commercial breaks between Coronation Street/Emmerdale or having to be shown after the nine o’clock watershed as they are too graphically challenging for younger folk which sort of defeats the intention of the ads –  we have witnessed fictional crashing drivers, pedestrians, cyclists, old folk, youngsters all being splattered – badly in stunts and Computer-generated imagery (CGI) – across our screens.

You can see all of this in “real time” without edits in any dash cam video on You Tube, so why would a sanitised produced video make any difference!

You might say but “if it only saves one life it is worth it”  but is it really in the context of vulnerable road users and modes of transport that we keep being told are “risky” – like riding a motorcycle?

Take that one step to its extreme that if riding is restricted or use of certain roads at certain times or young riders are “banned” from riding at certain times or motorcycles have a lower speed limit than other vehicles – would that be worth saving one life?

What about one suggestion that instead road signs that warn of more than average motorcycle use on certain roads for drivers (e.g. THINK BIKE) which would then spill over to putting motorcyclists in other drivers minds at all times – would that work?

With proposed decrease in budgets for Northern Ireland Government Departments, this may all be a moot point as the piggy bank for Road safety advertising of around £1.8 million may not be there to dip into, although as the minister has announced (but we don’t know the detail of the new proposed motorcycle safety campaign) a ring fenced budget may be in place but then again some agreement on a way forward seems to be in place for “dosh” for the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Training

training-250With the training that new and young riders have to go through to gain a full licence – from age 17 Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) another two tests – age 19 and age 21 – or at 24 years Direct Access to a full licence – that is not counting if at 16 a young person wants to start riding on a moped – so any “foolish” advertising that emphasis “blame” on motorcyclists will be treated with contempt by riders.

As previously mentioned not enough riders take up further post test training such as advanced riding – either through IAM – RoSPA and BikeSafe rider PSNI assessments.  But what are the incentives – is it only a few quid off insurance that does it?

On our Facebook page one comment we received about this new motorcycle campaign was, “Motorcyclist safety campaign does that mean motorcyclist are going to be targeted instead of making farmers and drivers aware of motorcyclists? Would also be a great idea of prosecuting drivers who kill bikers instead of letting them off and putting the blame on the biker.“

In response we replied, “ In answer to your question: No there is not the slightest intent of “targetting” motorcyclists….. the purpose of the campaign is raise awareness of other road users to look more carefully and of course for motorcyclists to be aware of the hazards on the road including other road users.

We at RTR were instrumental in getting the DOE to put together a package to raise awareness of motorcycles on the roads both in the short term and the long term which is in discussion through the Motorcycle Safety Forum which we are part of along with other stakeholders.

In response to your comment about prosecuting car drivers for killing motorcyclists – unfortunately the rhetoric of a UK based motorcycle organisation has muddied the waters with its British centric campaign but have actually got involved as contributors to a consultation process in GB..

It’s a two way issue. In Northern Ireland, if the police believe that there is a case for prosecution, they will charge whoever is responsible and put the case forward to the public prosecution service, whether they are car drivers, truck drivers, tractor drivers or motorcyclists. It is then down to the judicial system to make decisions and to consider what punishment – which is laid down in guidelines – now that may need to be changed/looked at – how it is “handed” out.

We need to move away for this victimisation agenda and work with agencies to get a better deal for motorcyclists.“

Positive Actions

pic19big-250At Right To Ride we support positive actions that are aimed at improving conditions for motorcyclists on Northern Ireland’s roads not those that seek to restrict motorcycling and our freedom of choice in certain aspects of motorcycling in our mind does have a place in motorcycle safety.

For any debate or campaign to have meaning, it is a fundamental prerequisite to look into the causes of motorcycle accidents in order to identify valid solutions, which one of the reasons why back in 2009 we published “The Riders Perspective“, in 2011 commented on DOEs “The Road Safety Strategy to 2020 – Vision: Driving Road Safety Forward” pushed for a Motorcycle Safety Forum – which will be publishing a Motorcyclists Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland, published the “Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012″ an in-depth study of 39 cases relating to motorcycle fatalities in Northern Ireland (UK) between 2004 and 2010 and continue to sit and be involved in Road Safety issues.

As riders involved in road safety, the message to us is clear, which is that legislators, road safety policy makers or road safety organisations with influence who have a safety agenda affecting riders, not only need to take note of the “group” that they are trying to affect but they need to present facts and structured persuasion to influence riders’ attitudes or behaviours.

However in circumstances when riders have faith in their own destiny, then no matter how or why legislators and safety organisations present any proposed changes, this will lead to a clash between that “safety” group and riders mainly because of a lack of dialogue and respect of opinion, but as we have witnessed over the years, because of ignorance about what actually works and what does not.

Particular Emphasis

bmwiampic1-250In 2008 a global  ITF/OECD report on motorcycle safety identified the importance of general driver training and recommended that: “a component on awareness and acceptance of motorcyclists should be included in the general training for all drivers, with a particular emphasis on the need for appropriate traffic scanning strategies. Motorcyclists cannot passively wait for the future impact of awareness campaigns and better driver education”.

We eagerly await an “update” from ITF/OECD to this report which is due to be published and we were able to comment to the report in its draft format.

At the start of this article we mentioned the Belfast Telegraph and while that article and others in various news reports reflect on the “gloom” and “Sharp rise in NI road deaths in 2014″ an article in the News Letter states that, “Last year was one of the safest years on record on Northern Ireland’s roads, despite a sharp rise in deaths” although their “facts” actually state that 2014 was, “in fact the fifth safest year on record” while, “the reasons for last year’s sudden rise in deaths are unclear, but it may mark the end of an abnormally safe spell on the roads and a return towards the long-term norm.” Their conclusion to this was that, “2014 was consistent with the long-term overall decline in fatalities since the 1970s.”

We would agree in general terms to this and to the fact that the DOE struggles to find out one reason for this decline or any spike in an increase to fatalities coupled with a decrease in seriously injured, might be a tail chasing exercise unless the realisation is that this all down to numerous factors.

The Northern Ireland newspaper “News Letter” comments that  “the most significant (…) is high compliance with seat belt laws.” and “Other key factors are: tougher enforcement of speed, drink and careless driving rules, better designed cars and roads, clearer road markings, better driver training, and higher awareness of the risks.”

Somewhere somebody has done their homework or they have been guided through the raft of statistics?

For 2015 while these are solemn thoughts as we move into the new year, we hope that for road safety and especially for motorcycling that we ride free with the advantages and enjoyment that motorcycling of all two wheeled varieties can bring.

Information & Links

Thirteen motorcyclists lost their lives in fatal collisions in 2014 – three more than in 2013 – 9 more than 2012.

However in 2007 25 motorcyclists were killed with a reduction from 2008.

2008 – 15 motorcyclists
2009 –  16 motorcyclists
2010 – 8 motorcyclists
2011 – 6 motorcyclists
2012 – 4 motorcyclists
2013 – 10 motorcyclists.

In 2014 two motorcyclists were killed in collisions with tractors – Eight killed in collisions with cars – three with no other vehicle involved.

From reports that we are aware of a, “higher levels of casualties occur at weekends; and that around half of the motorcyclist casualties are deemed to be the responsibility of the motorcyclist and around half to be the responsibility of other road users. The number of young motorcyclist casualties is decreasing, whilst the number of older casualties is increasing.” so do the older dogs of motorcycling need new tricks (training/education) or to be refreshed from older training?

“The increase recorded in 2013 is however mostly accounted for by those riders in the older age groups (45+ years).  “

“This latest increase is however in contrast to the number of motorcyclists seriously injured which has fallen from 143 in 2004 to a low of 91 in 2013, a drop of over one-third (36%). The level of motorcyclist serious injuries has fallen year on year since 2009.”

“From 2006 to 9th October 2014 109 motorcyclists have been killed on Northern Irelands roads – all have been male.”

Links

Belfast Telegraph – Senior police officer tells of ‘heartbreaking’ moment of delivering news to families of car crash tragedy victims – Click Here

Belfast Telegraph – We must halt return to the bad old days – Click Here

News Letter – Sharp rise in NI road deaths in 2014 – Click Here

News Letter – Despite rise, road death tally still historically low – Click Here

OSOCIO – This road safety ad is so bad, it’s a viral success – Click Here

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  1. Change Blindness – In the article above we stated this, “Awareness campaigns should be implemented or reviewed, especially to encourage car drivers to recognise that although they looked, they still might not have seen a rider. Other issues to consider are the “physical” way the eye works on ‘inattentional blindness’ and other factors such as looming and motion camouflage as well as car design such as the A Pillars blocking their view.

    Although the “Sorry Mate I did Not See You”- or SMIDSY is a reality that needs addressing.

    There is a real problem of car drivers not recognising motorcycles – especially at junctions and as a consequence, this is a major cause of collision between motorcycles and cars (or vans).

    Part of the problem is due to expectation – or simply that car drivers are not expecting to “see” motorcycles.

    The other issue is that motorcyclists do not understand that they are seriously at risk because of “inattentional blindness” and other factors.

    This is a very important issue which trainers and educators need to address.”

    The Road Safety Authority Ireland (RSA) have congratulated Young Scientists Jessica Sheehan and Max Shanahan of Kinsale Community School, Cork who picked up the RSA’s Road Safety Project Award at the BT Young Scientist Exhibition this year. Their project was entitled ‘The Effect of Change Blindness and its Effect on Road Safety’.

    Their objective was to determine the level of the effect of change blindness and to raise awareness of the possible danger this phenomenon poses to driving.

    Hopefully we can get a copy of the project.

    RSA – On Facebook

  2. Make Road Safety your New Year Resolution: Durkan

    The full press release from the DOE now available – 31st December 2014

    The Environment Minister today urged everyone to make the reduction of deaths and serious injuries on our roads their New Year Resolution.

    As 2014 draws to a close, 79 people have so far lost their lives during the year. That is 22 more people than 2013.

    Mark H Durkan said: “The New Year is a time for resolutions and commitments. We are all road users. Let us all therefore commit to playing our part on the road to zero road deaths. Too often, we take a risk and make the wrong choice. Is that risk worth a life?”

    Road traffic collisions are unexpected, traumatic events, occurring in a moment but with consequences enduring for a lifetime.

    The Minister said: “The number of road fatalities and serious injuries over the past year is a serious concern. I extend my sympathy to those who have lost loved ones and those who have suffered life changing injuries. Every death is tragic and will have brought enormous suffering to families, friends and communities. I say again today, any death is one too many, lets make 2015 a better year on our roads.”

    Outlining his own commitment for the year ahead the Minister said: “I am personally committed to continuing work with my Executive colleagues and the PSNI to improve road safety. This will be challenging given the very difficult financial position set out in the Executive’s draft budget. My Department will have less money for road safety advertising and other budgets will also be stretched.

    “But I will continue to make Road Safety a high priority.

    “Subject to Assembly approval, I will move forward the Road Traffic Amendment Bill to take further steps to tackle those who choose to drink and drive, and address the over-representation of young people killed on our roads.

    “I have commissioned a new motorcycle safety campaign, as motorcycle deaths have shown a particular rise, and, statistically, riding a motorcycle carries the highest risk of any road use.

    “I will be launching with others a ‘Driving At Work’ guide for employers to ensure that they take seriously the risks involved.”

    Almost all casualties on our roads are caused by poor road user behaviour.

    Mr Durkan emphasised: “The State cannot be on every corner or in every vehicle. It is the duty of all of us to take responsibility for our own behaviour and act in a way that protects the lives of those with whom we share the road.

    “That means driving at a safe speed for the conditions. It means paying attention at all times. It means never driving having taken drink or drugs, or texting when driving. It means wearing a seatbelt on every journey, no matter how short. It means recognising the particular risks of rural roads. It means recognising and paying particular care to vulnerable road users.

    “I remain committed to doing all that I can to prevent the pointless tragedies on our roads. I call on everyone to join me in making Road Safety a personal New Years’ resolution.”

    Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said: “While our preliminary figures indicate that 79 people have been killed on the roads in Northern Ireland, which is 22 more than 2013, one death on the roads is one too many.

    “Too many families and communities across Northern Ireland are starting a new year coping with the loss of loved ones killed in road traffic collisions. For others involved in serious collisions, it can mean coping with life changing injuries.

    “While road safety will continue to be a priority for the police throughout 2015, the sad reality is that many of these collisions could have been avoided. We must all take personal responsibility for our actions. Slow down. Pay greater attention to your surroundings. Always wear a seatbelt and never ever drive after drinking or taking drugs.

    “If everyone follows our advice, there will be fewer serious and fatal road traffic collisions and more people live, it’s really that simple.”

    Original Source – Click Here

    Notes to editors:

    1. Provisional figures released today by PSNI show that in 2014 there were 79 deaths on Northern Ireland roads as a result of road traffic collisions.

    2. In 1931 there were 114 road deaths and this number increased over the years before peaking in 1972 with 372 deaths. The number of road deaths then gradually reduced during the late 1970s and the 1980s before levelling off with around 155 deaths per year during the 1990s. Road deaths then decreased during the 2000s, dropping from 148 fatalities in 2001 to 115 in 2009 before the numbers more than halved in 2010 (55 fatalities) with similar numbers recorded in 2011 (59 fatalities). The lowest figure of 48 deaths was recorded in 2012, increasing to 57 in 2013

    3. Drivers of motor vehicles were the single largest casualty class from 1 January to 31 December 2014, accounting for 31 casualties killed. There were also 18 pedestrians, 13 passengers, 13 motorcyclists, three pedal cyclists and one pillion passenger killed in road traffic collisions in 2014.

    4. There were four child (under 16) fatalities recorded in 2014 compared with two child fatalities in 2013.

    5. Road user fatalities in 2014, by category, are as follows;

    Pedestrian 18
    Driver 31
    Passenger 13
    Pedal Cyclist 3
    Motorcyclist 13
    Pillion Passenger 1
    Other Road User 0
    TOTAL 79

    6. Northern Ireland Road Deaths 2010-2014

    Year – Total
    2009 – 115
    2010 – 55
    2011 – 59
    2012 – 48
    2013 – 57
    2014 – 79

    7. Below is a snapshot of road death trends at various years from 1931 to present day.

    Year – Total
    1931 – 114
    1945 – 124
    1953 – 163
    1964 – 219
    1969 – 257
    1972 – 372
    1982 – 216
    1990 – 185
    2000 – 171
    2009 – 115
    2010 – 55
    2011 – 59
    2012 – 48
    2013 – 57
    2014 – 79

    8. Some of the activities the Department of Environment has engaged in during 2014 include:

    DOE developed a campaign early in 2014 urging road users to pay attention. The core message is “If you think it will never happen to you, you have just increased the chances that it will.”

    The ‘Don’t Forget’ cyclist campaign was launched in April. The campaign encourages cyclists and drivers to emotionally engage with each other and to help them understand each other’s perspective so that they respect each other’s journey. The message is underpinned with the strapline ‘Respect Everyone’s Journey’.

    The ‘Classroom’ anti speeding campaign was launched in June. This campaign depicts the fact that the equivalent of a classroom of children has lost their lives as a result of speeding since 2000. The message clearly shows the risks that come with speeding and will make road users feel and understand the horror of the consequences, so that they look at their own behaviour, reduce their speed and make safer choices. This campaign received high awareness and influence levels and has received over 4.5 million views on YouTube.

    The Road Safety Forum continued to meet to facilitate the sharing of views and concerns of key stakeholders.

    The Department continued working in partnership with the PSNI, the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and the NI Ambulance Service to deliver a programme of road safety education and enforcement initiatives.

    DOE continued to work closely with other organisations to deliver the road safety message at local levels. In particular, Allstate NI, GAA, Coca-Cola, the MoD and several motorsport organisations have been hugely supportive.

    The Department has also awarded grants to the voluntary and community sector to address local road safety issues.

    While DOE has responsibility for road safety, many partners have contributed to work during 2014.

    9. To pledge to share the road to zero road deaths, visit the road to zero webpageexternal link