Riders warn governments on ‘safety’ barriers

Wire rope barriers better roads austroads report hazards support old solar panels

Governments which install roadside barriers that are potentially lethal to riders could be criminally culpable for any deaths or injuries, warns the Motorcycle Advocacy Group (MAG).

The group points out that there are registration and ongoing requirements for engineers involved in roadworks and failure to take into consideration the safety of motorcyclists would constitute a breach.

It also warns that Queensland has recently updated its Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017 to include the crime of industrial manslaughter.

In the wake of the announcement of proposed $11.3 million of roadworks for the Mt Glorious area, MAG member David White has written to the Department of Transport and Main Roads warning that the Act makes the department criminal culpable for injuries and deaths.

“It would be difficult for any organisation to not respect the intent of this type of legislation and to consider its impact if through their actions they cause a death,” the letter says.

Society now has an expectation that the manager, officers, engineers, designers and installers are all well aware of this type of legislation and will ensure that they do not intentionally create an unsafe environment for motorcyclists.”

Ban new barriersWire rope barriers

MAG has a particular concern about installing any new barriers.

However, the department told us recently that the Mt Glorious roadworks project is still in the design stage and there are no specific plans in place yet. Click here for more details.

For motorcyclists, the inclusion of any barrier has the potential to change a low-risk situation into one where the certainty of significant damage or death is increased to 100%,” the MAG letter says.

Therefore we expect that any design will take into account the risk to motorcyclists and the designers will meet their obligation under this Act so that the project outcome will be a reduction in the risk, not increasing risk by simply imposing additional barriers that will cause certain death or injury to motorcyclists.

No barrier and a clear run-off area is the safest design as demonstrated at MotoGP sites where riders walk away from crashes in excess of 300km/h.

We note the recent safety upgrade to the Mt Nebo road by BCC included additional road pavement width and no additional barriers.”

Wire Rope Barriers

Wire Rope Barriers
Padded wire rope barrier post

MAG also noted the trend toward installing wire rope barriers which they say are a particular concern to motorcyclists.

WRBs were also one of the focal points of a recent Victorian Bad Roads Rally.

MAG says there is little independent evidence of road authorities about the efficacy of WRBs.

“As an example, the Calder Highway in Victoria where these ‘safety devices’ are deemed a success, there is no data to substantiate the claims,” MAG says.

“Specifically a motorcyclist was killed after colliding with the safety barrier while avoiding a kangaroo trapped by the safety barrier … yet the cause of death is reported as the kangaroo.”

MAG warns the department that motorcyclists would not only petition and lobby for the removal of WRBs, but also file class actions against the authorities, owners, designers, suppliers and installers.

The group has asked to be included as a registered stakeholder in the Mt Glorious roadworks project.

5 Comments

  1. Why not use 3 1/2 foot tall cement divider/barriers, at the least they won’t cut, sever, or rip off body parts, leaving someone in pieces like a butcher shop. Sliding along on concrete is a smoother option, low maintenance, keeping auto and motorcyclist not in as much stress as with the wire rope dividers

  2. I am very pleased to read of the stand the Motorcycle Advocacy Group (MAG) has taken on the responsibility of authorities, in this case, the road authorities, for the safe design and implementation of carriage ways in the wake of the recent passage in Queensland of its updated Work Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2017. It is my belief and I have written on this not so long ago that, irrespective of any specific legislation, authorities have a mandatory responsibility to use all available information to ensure, by their actions, that they do not knowingly contribute to unsafe situations. Of course, this includes the water, gas and electricity authorities who go about providing their products and services ostensibly without knowingly putting their customers at risks. Of course, where there have been breaches, these authorities have provided compensation in response. I keenly await the responses of the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

  3. In Victoria (the cotton-wool capital), they are installing WRB (cheese graters) up most of the Hume freeway, which (for those who don’t know) basically bisects the entire state, running North/South. For much of that, they are replacing Armco barriers on both sides.

    The Hume, is a mostly a very straight piece of road.
    If a motorcycle rider comes off, they are likely to just glance the Armco and come to a halt further up the road.
    Now that Armco is being torn out and replaced with WRB, it’s almost certain death.

    I can only applaud the MAG’s stance on this – “safety” numbers published by the relevant authorities are at best pure fantasy, verging on outright lies when it turns to motorcycle “safety” and/or cause of death.

    Why is *everyone* held accountable for *everything* else these days, and yet motorcyclists are left eating a shit sandwich every time?!

  4. Hi all , no cheese cutters at all, there is enough perel up on these mountains now so Armco with the safety section on the lower section only as we all know there are some motorcycle riders who go up there and use it as there own personal race track and other riders who make a mistake so to install the wire up there more deaths will occur for sure ! Thanks

  5. I really don’t know how WRBs ever got approved for use.
    They are only partially effective against cars and mostly those designed in the 1980s every other vehicle either rides over the top or splits the wires and passes through or gets trapped with wires blocking the doors and windows preventing escape.
    Moreover they are located in the wrong place right beside the road not several metres away where they would allow vehicles room to correct their course before colliding with the barrier. It almost seems like they are deliberately located in the wrong place to ensure that they get damaged regularly requiring constant costly repair. One might think that the people who make the decisions about what to choose are either total imbeciles who can think ahead or are receiving some sort of gratuity for being so incompetent.
    If you only look at installation cost WRBs are cheaper than other barriers but when you add in maintenance and repair and now those ridiculous foam pads to supposedly save riders the cost blows out to be the most expensive choice.

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