Police around the country are again abusing statistics to issue their annual warning to motorcyclists that they will be out in force this Christmas.
This follows a rise in motorcycle fatalities this year, including six in Queensland this past week.
As a result, we can expect all available mobile speed cameras and police patrols to be deployed to scan the roads for revenue – sorry, speeding motorists.
This will be followed by daily police reports on the number of speed offences which will be used by compliant mainstream media to shock the public.
Police can also be expected to name speed as the cause in most crashes and media will lap it up without asking how they reached that conclusion.
Annual stats don’t stack up
However, the road toll statistics just don’t stack up.
For example, Queensland Road Policing Command Inspector Peter Flanders says the 59 motorcycle deaths so far this year is the highest it has been since 51 in 2012.
What he doesn’t mention is that motorcycle registrations have increased 16.5% from 170,260 in 2012 to 198,468 this year.
Meanwhile, the relatively small number fatalities cannot realistically be presented as highest and lowest or rates because they are so small.
It’s a similar situation in other states, but let’s stay with the Queensland example.
In 2011, there were 41 motorcycle fatalities, rocketing to 51 in 2012. What police fail to mention is that motorcycle fatalities were down in 2013 and 2014 to 43 and 35.
With such small figures, of course they are going to fluctuate wildly from year to year.
If you want statistics, we could say that fatalities have actually risen 1% less than the increase in motorcycle registrations over the past five years.
So let’s stop misusing and abusing statistics and start looking for new solutions, rather than more and more speed cameras.
For example, what have police done about patrolling for inattention?
Speed cause ‘absolute crap’
Australian and NSW Motorcycle Council executive, and former police driving instructor Peter Ivanoff says police references to the proportion of accidents caused by speeding is “absolute crap”.
“They don’t know what the real causes of crashes are because ‘cause’ isn’t even on the agenda when crashes are ‘investigated’ by police,” he says.
While police continue to deploy more speed cameras, Peter, a former Academic Director at Charles Sturt University’s School of Policing Studies, says the biggest killer is not speeding, but inattention, for which police seem to have no plan to counteract.
“More and more speed cameras will simply catch more and more motorists exceeding speed limits and if the claims of road authorities were true, as we have more and more speed cameras, the road toll should declining accordingly, in a virtual linear fashion – it isn’t.”