Important university study neglects riders

University Australian Naturalistic Driving Study

Motorcyclists seem to have been sidelined in a long-awaited university study that experts believe would help one of the most vulnerable road users.

Australian Naturalistic Driving Study not only excludes motorcyclists, but also people aged over 70 and is restricted to people in Sydney, regional New South Wales, Melbourne and regional Victoria.

Emeritus Professor of Transport Marcus Wigan says the study, involving the CSIRO and Monash and Australian National universities, has been eagerly awaited for decades.

He says it is important because it doesn’t just concentrate on fatal accidents, but also injury accidents, incidents and motorists who have never had an accident.l

“The study is asking for volunteers to be involved, but when you go to volunteer you find it excludes riders and anyone over 70 yet they makes lots of loud noises about the dangers of older riders,” he says.

“The cognitive dissonance of these two strategies needs to be challenged.”

Marcus Wigan harassment
Marcus Wigan

Marcus points out that the average age of learner riders is in the 30s and the average age of riders is over 50.

“So it becomes important to pay positive attention to the experience of the over-70s and those coming behind them to make positive steps.”

Marcus believes that motorcyclists would be interested in taking part in the study.

“Motorcyclists are extremely interested in their own safety, yet there is no wish to cover riders or anyone over 70, yet a remarkable amount of energy is pointed to both.

“The experience of long-time riders with clean records is important to road safety.keep calm road safety crashes

“I’m one of them and I don’t understand what I do. I know that I will slow up for no reason, but I do not know why I do this. I have not been hit or hit anything since 1956 and I ride all the time. I want to know why.”

Marcus says the government and authorities spend taxpayer dollars on road safety education and punitive fines, but little on important studies such as this which could lead to rewarding good and safe motorists.

“They spend a huge amount of community resources and expenses on hectoring, restrictions and controls and not as much on co-operative support and active positive engagement.”

In other words, all stick and no carrot!

11 Comments

  1. I took a survey on road rage from one of the peak bodies who do such studies, I forget which one. Aside from the questions there was a video of a supposed trigger event. I think I may have scewed their results being a motorcyclist and a very experienced driver. The questions and scenarios had zero motorcycle perspective and many of the questions and multiple choice answers were almost leading to the point that if you followed the lead the results of the survey would have been predicable. Ever watch Yes Minister? There’s a scetch where Sir Humphrey is describing how you can get a survey to have the results you want by asking the questions in a way that gets the answer you want. This survey had that kind of feel to it.
    So I did my best to read between the lines and give the correct answer not the one they wanted.

  2. Mark, I dont recall quoting the average age of learners or of riders.. and indeed have not yet checked these two numbers. It is true that the average age of riders is rising of course,but I have not looked at any data defining these two numbers for quite some years. I dont want to unintentionally mislead any readers by not correcting this attributed quote..Ill post the correctdata if I have time to dig up the most recent numbers of course!

  3. Well put Al, and combine that with ridiculous surveys of riders by MUARC (Monash) in the past, it’s hard not to be cynical about any form of research, especially when commissioned by Government and Road & Traffic Authorities, hell bent on making certain the research confirms their misguided notions that motorcyclists shouldn’t ever be considered as valid road users. They seem to forget that a lot of us are also drivers, and generally very good ones at that, and we also vote!

    August 2014 – MUARC commissioned survey by VicRoads, which has a page of personal profiling questions such as diet related, sun-care and gun ownership! Absolutely nothing to do with rider safety, which is what the survey claims to be about; instead this section dealing with personal information clearly aimed at establishing that motorcyclists are inherently risk takers. See attached.

  4. I was listening to a cop on ABC radio yesterday. Who came up
    with one of the most interesting statements about road safety i have heard in a long time.
    He said the main problem is drivers are looking no further than the immediate area of their
    vehicles. so when something happens they have no time to respond. The first warning of
    a sudden stop for them is the brake lights of the car immediately in front not of one
    4 or 5 cars in front hence the high number of tail enders.
    It probably explains the problems of some newly returned riders and cyclists
    They are bringing bad habits learned over years of car driving into an area
    far less forgiving

    1. Too true but it is a bad habit that is on the increase due to speedo gazing.
      Once upon a time the vehicle travelling slowly in front of you was doing so for a reason like looking for a parking spot or an address or a traffic issue, now that slow and extra slow is the norm you can not take your eyes off the guy just ahead to look four or five car lengths ahead as that car may slam on the brakes to park or because he spotted a camera.

  5. I generally agree with what Marcus says here, but instrumenting motorcycles for this type of research is somewhat more difficult (and costly) than instrumenting cars because of the physical size and lean angles, among other factors. An enormous amount of data is collected by a comprehensive data acquisition system, and the amount that can be managed and properly analysed is limited somewhat by the scope of the project and the available resources. A naturalistic riding study probably has to be a separate study, which has been done in the US by Virginia Tech and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (with NHTSA backing). It would be great if such a project could get up in Australia. Even with only cars instrumented, however, the study still has potential to look closely at the interactions between cars and bikes, which should be of interest to any rider given that other road users are usually most at fault when such interactions lead to crashes.

    1. The equipment is available readily. The EU project led by Stefan Espie (which I and Mike Regan originally proposed incidentally, only to be squeezed out by MUARC once they got the funds) has the gear no longer being used on that completed project, plus the analysis software. MUARc could easily have borrowed it! Also the instrumentation package itself is no longer exotic: eye trackers, inertial trackers etc etc are becoming part of the advanced Bosch electronic packages and supply a lot of the data.. and all the sensors have dropped in price precipitously.. for less than the cost of ONE Car Crash program vehicle now…the major SHRP2 naturalistic driving study (held now at VT) specifically excluded motorcycles. There are fresh initiatives in Europe and the US of course, and so, with all that learning done and developed, it is particularly galling to see nothing done in Australia when naturalistic driving is initiated. The V2C program signed off by ACEM and Honda and BMW is addressing v2v issues in ITS so the equipment is coming forward rapidly in a bulk pricing mode. Why of why dont motorcyclists in Australia get together and support people who keep globally connected on these matters! Then maybe we could have a meaningful discussion with governments-publicly and not just on small scale Blogs(however good) such as this!

      However Ross, I have not got the up to date detaisl of the follow up MSF/NHTSA initative you cited -please forward so I can make sensible comment!

  6. They reason for the exclusion is that they don’t want to scew the results they have already decided on, that more speed cameras will not cause more fatalities lower speed limits will not cause more accidents and road rage and that its OK to put razor wire crash barriers in places that could harm motor cyclists.

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