Victoria is introducing compulsory hi-vis vests for learner riders as part of their new graduated licence system, again raising the hoary issue of compulsory protective motorcycle clothing.
However, the state government’s road safety committee found there was not enough evidence to support mandatory high-visibility clothing. It cited European road safety research which found the benefits of wearing a high-visibility vest depended on the time of day and location. A rider in the city would be more visible in reflective clothing whereas a rider in a rural setting is more visible during the day wearing dark clothing, according to the research.
So the new rule for hi-vis vests seems more an issue of politicians grabbing a headline rather than really considering the safety of motorcycle riders. It’s a dangerous precedent that again puts the issue of compulsory motorcycle clothing under the spotlight.
France introduced minimum fluoro requirements on riders’ jackets a couple of years ago and is now trying to expand that to compulsory vi-vis vests for all riders. The latest move, together with banning lane filtering, sparked a protest by 100,000 French riders.
However, across the channel, the Brits seem to want compulsory clothing standards. British independent road safety organisation IAM is calling for labels on motorcycle clothing that tell you how much protection it provides. This is based on their research which shows 85% of UK riders consider protection the most important factor when purchasing motorcycle clothing. It also found 90% say they always wear protective clothing when riding, 70% are willing to pay for top quality gear and 45% actually believe it should be compulsory.
Of course, the Brits don’t have to deal with oppressive heat as riders do in the rest of the world. However, as more countries begin talking about compulsory protective clothing issues, it could flow through to the motorcycle clothing brands and eventually to our legislators who think they are doing us a service, or at least getting good media exposure.
Meanwhile, America seems to be going in the opposite direction with a couple of states reversing their helmet rules. In the US, freedom of choice is more important than legislating other people’s lives.
What do you think of compulsory clothing rules? Leave your comments below.