A new motorcycle “Always On” safety campaign featuring an online 10-question quiz and video has just been launched by VicRoads but has already attracted some criticism.
Most motorcycle representatives we spoke to are pleased there is a campaign about motorcycle safety.
However, there was some criticism of the quiz wording, the video edits and the over-reliance on electronic rider aids.
Motorcycle instructors and Victorian Government’s Motorcycle Experts Advisory Committee were consulted in the initial stages, but not the final edit.
MEAP rep Dean Marks says the test wording and video are consequently “flawed”.
“VicRoads will get eaten by experienced riders and instructors and the rest of the MEAP group and instructors,” he says.
Fellow MEAP rep and Victorian Motorcycle Council chair Peter Baulch says he hopes riders “get something out of the survey”.
However, he says the producers “have again adopted the ‘we know best’ attitude”.
Video errors include the rider entering a corner and gearing up, not down, and at a hairpin the rider accelerates instead of slowing.
One of the main flaws is the over-reliance on electronic rider aids such as ABS to save lives.
The video features a new Triumph Street Scrambler (good taste!) that comes with ABS and traction control.
The questionnaires states: “ABS stops wheel lock, traction control senses traction loss and stability control monitors the way you’re riding. These technologies work together to keep you on your bike.”
Peter queried the emphasis on upgrading your motorcycle.
“I think road safety messages to riders should shift focus to becoming a better rider, rather than focussing on ‘get a better bike’ (that is, get bikes with ABS),” he says.
“Rider skills and decision-making are proven critical elements of safer motorcycling.”
ABS becomes mandatory in November on new motorcycles over 125cc, while bikes with lower engine capacities must have either combined brakes systems (CBS) or ABS.
While authorities promote ABS as reducing crashes by 30%, motorcycle experts dispute the figures and say it dangerously gives riders a false sense of security.
The 2009 Maids Report reverse engineered almost 1000 accidents and found that in 80-87% of crashes riders took no evasive action such as braking, sub-limit braking or swerving.
Therefore, ABS would have had no effect.
It’s not the first time VicRoads has overstated the effect of ABS on road safety.
In 2016, university safety researcher Ross Blackman criticised a VicRoads brochure that stated: “A motorcycle with ABS enhances your riding skills and techniques by preventing the wheels from locking, skidding and sliding under.”
Quite simply, no technology makes you a better rider. It only helps compensate for poor skills or emergencies, he said.
The VicRoads brochure also suggested riders retro-fit ABS, but there is no known aftermarket product.
VicRoads apologised for the misleading information and error when we pointed them out.
ABS is simply no substitute for good rider skills and the only way to get them is through training and practice.