Distracted drivers who don’t look for motorcycles are being blamed for a spike in rider deaths, increasing our crash danger status from “amber” to “red”.
The annual Australian Automobile Association National Road Safety Strategy performance report shows motorcyclists represented nearly 18% of the 1189 deaths on the nation’s roads in the 12 months to September.
There have been 201 motorcyclist deaths on Australian roads over the past 12 months, an increase from 194 in the corresponding period for 2014. This is a 3.6% increase.
This has caused the annual report to upgrade riders’ status from amber to red which means fatalities are above the notional NRSS target.
Australian Motorcycle Council secretary Tony Ellis says rider fatalities are increasing mainly because there are more motorbikes on the road.
In fact, motorcycle registrations have increased 4.3% annually since 2010 from 660,107 to 807,215, making it the fastest-growing vehicle segment, followed by light rigid trucks (4.1% from 115,845 to 140,625.
Tony says distracted drivers are the biggest threat to motorcyclists’ safety and even minor crashes can have serious consequences for riders.
His claim is backed by University of Adelaide Centre for Automotive Safety Research deputy director Matthew Baldock who says most multiple vehicle motorbike crashes were caused by cars failing to give way at intersections.
“When people scan the road to give way what they tend to be looking for is other cars or trucks or buses,” he says. “They don’t tend to actively look for motorcycles.”
An annual RACQ survey has found that driver distractions such as mobile phones are the biggest complaint among motorists.
Meanwhile, Jaguar/Land Rover is developing technology called Bike Sense that will use unconventional warnings including a “tap” on the shoulder to alert drivers of potential collisions with motorbikes and bicycles.