Distracted drivers cause motorcycle crashes

accident scene distracted driver

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.Crash stats accident scene distracted driver

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.

2015 RACQ What Drives You Crazy? survey

  1. Motorists talking/sending SMS on hand-held mobiles
  2. Drivers who follow too closely/tailgate
  3. Motorists who increase their speed when you try to overtake them
  4. Motorists who throw litter out of their vehicles
  5. Motorists who incorrectly use indicators e.g. indicate too late or fail to indicate at all
  6. Motorists who aren’t courteous e.g. allowing room to merge/change lanes
  7. Motorists parking incorrectly e.g. Double-parking or using disability car parks
  8. Motorists turning from the wrong lane e.g. At multi-lane roundabouts
  9. Motorists who do not move over to allow others to overtake
  10. Motorists ignoring restricted speed limits e.g. At school zones or road works

7 Comments

  1. i would also note cyclists have always been tagged as high risk
    but it has always been us motorcyclists targeted by authorities.
    It would seem safety issues are secondary to the political clout
    of the cyclist lobby. When did you last see cyclists pulled over
    and drug tested? Let a six year old out on the road on a small
    motorcycle ? In your dreams, I see cyclists pulling those pram
    type trailers with babies on board .But put a kid under 8 in a
    sidecar and see how you go

  2. There are many elements to this story but in the first instance I’d hope that the results won’t be used by some muppet to suggest that all motorcyclist have to wear Fluro to ‘assist’ car drivers. That whole concept to me is a load of BS, noting it’s a seperate issue.

    I think it is a pertinent point that there are more bikes on the road. Overall this is a great thing but are they learning well enough? Are new bike riders doing enough training to get on the road by themselves? Are riders encouraged enough to do more training after a few years in the saddle? I personally don’t think that they are and the process of getting a bike licence should be a bit tougher. This isn’t to discourage people from riding but to make them better at it.

    This leads to my next point — I was taught years ago that as a bike rider, ‘there is no accident that you can get into that isn’t your fault to begin with’. Now before you cry ‘outrage’ let me explain. It’s an attitude. As a motorcyclist you need to take more responsibility for moronic drivers doing stupid things, if you want to increase your chances of staying alive. Hence, when approaching intersections, perhaps consider your speed and lane positioning, and scan more for threats. Perhaps when following a car, pay more attention to what it and other vehicles around you are doing. Do training so when your are enjoying a windy road your skills match your ambition. Get the bike serviced and put the best rubber you can afford on it — as plenty of times all that makes the difference is that you didn’t skimp on quality tyres that are at the right pressure.

    Sure there will be someone that says, what if a drunk guy doing 250 km/hr comes through a red light. What’s your saying going to do now? Whatever, is my response — it’s an attitude. I hope that advocacy groups and government can improve the overall level of competence of all road users via training, enforcement, safety standards but at the end of the day I will in the first instance presume they are all muppets that wouldn’t blink an eye lid at hitting me so it up to myself to lower the risk on that score.

    Dressing as a tennis ball ain’t going to help either.

    1. As someone who came late to motorcycles and has been through all the compulsory rider training (plus some non-compulsory) I can assure you that the guys at HART who took me through the 6 hours of pre-learner training and then the 8 hours of P-plate training, really DO emphasis that riders need to have a constant and positive attitude to safety. They also give the riders some tools to develop and maintain a safety focused attitude. Things like:

      – never being closer than 3 seconds to the vehicle in front while recommending that 5 second gap is a lot safer and more relaxing (once you get over the mental hurdle that you are too far away at 5 seconds).

      – constantly scanning for hazards and actively buffering away from hazards.

      – maintaining a constant internal dialogue (talking to yourself) about what you can see and what you can do about it. “I can see………., He might……….., so I can ……….”.

      All up I was very impressed with the quality of the training I was given as a new rider. It far exceeded what I expected and what I was given when I learned to drive a car many years ago.

  3. There should be similar penalties for mobile use as there are drink driving
    at least a 3 month suspension on a first offense as far as i can see fines and points
    loss are having little or no effect they might as well have a television on the seat
    next to them, its no longer just phone and textinx its facebook and everything else

    1. Yeah, I’ve been saying this for ages. I wouldn’t say 3 months, but 1 month loss for a first offence.

      Because unlike speeding, not using your indicator and other things which can be attributed to a brain fart, using your phone requires you to conciously pick up your phone amd start stuffing around on it.

  4. You or they left out the number one distraction in cars. The speedometer!
    The authorities keep going on about speed kills but instead of telling use what that really means they just use it as an excuse to raise revenue. The over focus on exceeding the speed limit and the failure to educate drivers on what speeding really is and the increased level of vigilance drivers place on not exceeding the limit as opposed to paying attention and driving at an appropriate speed regardless of the limit is causing far more deaths of drivers and riders than there would be if there were no speed limits.
    The next time someone says a speed camera can save lives they should be made to prove it beyond doubt or be charged with negligent homicide.

    1. You always come across a driver [usually wearing a hat] who steadfastly refuses to exceed the posted speed
      when overtaking things like b-doubles, putting themselves and everybody else in danger.
      I have also noticed that now it is ok to cross unbroken lines to overtake cyclists that some [usually 4wd’s] have
      no hesitation doing that no matter what is coming the other way

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *