Remove dangerous roadside hazards

Remove dangerous roadside hazards

A United Nations road safety report has recommended roadside hazards be removed as they are a proven cause of serious motorcycle crash injuries and deaths.

The 108-page World Health Organisation “Powered two- and three-wheeler safety” report says a motorcycle crash with a fixed roadside hazard is 15 times more likely to be fatal than a crash on the ground with no physical contact with a fixed hazard.

They also increase the severity of injuries in such crashes, it says.

Read about the report here.

Yet authorities continue to install signs on metal poles, wire rope barriers and other hazards while continuing to ignore flexible non-harming roadside alternatives such as Chevroflex signs.

Road safety training UN suggests separate motorcycle lanes Remove dangerous roadside hazards
Flexible Chevroflex roadside signs

It’s probably the fault of short-sighted and tight-fisted politicians who would rather reap cash from speed fines than spend money on primary safety features.

However, these signs may be more expensive in the short term, but in the long-term they don’t need fixing or replacing in a crash.

Besides, they would only need to be placed in known motorcycle “blackspot” areas, particularly on curves.

A special mention here must go to the Victorian Government which is spending $10.75 million improving eight high-risk motorcycle routes.

They are installing rub-rail protective barriers, sealing driveways and roads, improving road surfaces, upgrading signage and making “roadside improvements”. All upgrades are expected to be finished by mid-2017.

Remove all hazardsSigns hazards

The WHO report also suggests the removable of other roadside hazards such as trees, guardrails, utility poles and drainage structures.

It says the severity of a motorcycle, scooter or powered-two- or three-wheeler (PTW) crash with a roadside object depends on the speed, impact angle, surface area of the object and the impact absorption properties of the object.

They cite a study that found roadside objects were the primary cause of fatalities and another Australian and New Zealand study presented at the 2015 Australasian Road Safety Conference that concluded that almost all roadside objects are hazardous to PTW users.

“This is mainly due to the fact that all objects have been designed for safety of cars and their occupants rather than for PTWs,” it says.

The report says creating a roadside “clear zone” would not only minimise the risk of a rider hitting a hazardous object, but also provide room for them to correct errors.

“Choice of location of roadside equipment used for lighting or signage can also have a negative impact on PTW safety,” it says.

“Guardrails and crash barriers are often used to separate vehicles from roadside hazards but the design of such devices needs to take motorcyclists into account.”

Guard rail debateWire rope barrier better roads austroads report hazards

As for what is the best type of guard rail to use, the report acknowledges the debate over the abundant use of wire rope barriers.

Read about the barrier debate here.

“There is increasing evidence that the position of motorcyclists when they impact a guardrail may be more important than the type of guardrail,” it says.

They refer to an OECD report that recommends crash barriers that allow a fallen rider to slide along the surface rather than hit any specific component of the barrier such as a post.

6 Comments

  1. Just a thought to kick around. May be public service officers using motorcycles for their main mode of transport could be used to report roadside hot spots and defects. This could be encouraged through local authorities and service organizations to ensure greater awareness by regular two wheel users, rather than relying on recreational riders to pass on feedback. It seems to me that common sense says that Posties, Motorcycle Police and the like are more prone to see everyday problems that may be overlooked or ignored by other casual riders. This may in fact be promoted already and not made public knowledge! Notwithstanding, WA has gone through a horror patch already this year of two wheel riders being tail ended. Numerous deaths and horrific injuries on a regular basis of blame free individuals have sadly been recorded so far in 2017. One of the main excuses is “I didn’t see them” which translates after heavy injections of truth serum into; I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I personally have adopted a closer/longer look in the mirrors when stopping, just to keep an eye on what’s happening behind me. Yes its split second stuff and some would argue that we shouldn’t have to do it, however, to have a little warning is way better than none when it comes to evasive action. Neck snapping injuries would have to be one of the most unpleasant injury to a rider and so the tiniest bit of warning could be a lifesaver. Just my thoughts, Ride safe ya’ll :}

  2. Yes, poorly placed and hazardous signage is a big problem for riders in WA and Nationally. I believe a lot more could be done by local shires, councils and MRD in consultation with bike groups and vested interest parties with a common goal of reducing these man made hazards. Also overgrown trees and bushes very close to roundabouts, bends, verges and the like should also be critically looked at with priority action by the individual authorities. Also, inspection and report back by the road user seems to take far too long for corrective action to take place. And way too many of us will just drive on and not bother to report these types of hazards. Most authorities do their best to identify possible road user hazard areas and yet a certain amount of apathy exists from the very user that is complaining about the given situation. May be a more pro active approach by we users would improve road safety for all users. Also it seems to me that a simple phone App (if not already in place) properly promoted would improve reporting woes which could alert authorities to pending road side problems. This is a massive problem for all road users and there is no quick or substantive answer. However, with the escalating grim road accident figures we see in the media every day, surely it’s worth doing whatever we can to reduce these horrific crash figures.

    1. So true Bas W. In saying that, the states need to take a leaf out the NT Roads book, the roads in the Territory are quite wide, the table drain is at least 50 – 100 mtrs wide, then the vegetation is a further 50 -60 mtrs from the roadway.

  3. There is a tragic level of idiocy often involved in the placement of road furniture.
    I know of one fatality caused by a the combination of marker sign and a keep left sign on a median strip. A vehicle turning right could not see an oncoming truck because it was obscured by these signs until it had gone too far into the trucks path.
    Often power poles light poles and signs are not placed where they are safest but where it is most convenient for the people installing it or where it is cheapest.
    I have clipped my helmet on a pedestrian crossing light pole on a busy highway because it was placed at the apex of a bend. The crossing should not have been located there , the only reason for it was the exit of a railway station was close to the centre of the bend. If it was before or after the bend I wouldn’t have had to pick my way through the built up oil and painted lines in the middle of a bend on a rainy day.

    1. This is a problem on a lot of ACT roundabouts. The signage on your right as you approach is right at head height obscuring car drivers view before they enter. I’ll never understand how this is allowed to happen.

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