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Police crash report demonises riders

Motorcycle police VicPol road uniform demonises patrols

A police report that claims riders of high-powered motorbikes are over-represented in the crash statistics demonises riders as “thrill seekers” and is “absolutely meaningless”.

Victorian Motorcycle Council media spokesman John Eacott says the scant Victorian Police assessment of crash statistics is “akin to claiming that more blue cars crash than white cars”.

Victoria Police compiled crash data for the Melbourne News Ltd paper, Herald Sun, which showed that 27 out of 67 deaths in 2017 and 2018 involved bikes bigger than 1000cc. About 10% of crash police reports did not detail engine capacity.

Another 28 riders died in the 500-1000cc category while riders of bikes under 500cc had fewer deaths but sustained more injuries.

The crash data did not include any information about the increase in motorcycle licences or motorcycle registrations, although bikes under 500cc are 37% of registrations and 18% of fatals in 2017/18, according to VicRoads.

Stats furphy

John also points out that there are no statistics kept in Victoria to equate accidents with the kilometres travelled by any type of bike.

Earlier this year, John pointed out the furphy of police and road safety authority claiming returned riders are the biggest safety risk partly because it did not factor in kilometres travelled.

“As with the mythical ‘returning rider’ (which still remains undefined and therefore without evidence based stats) this is another furphy,” he says.

The report that “cherry picked statistics” only served to demonise riders, he says.

The “Hun” sought comment on the cops’ report from Stuart Newstead of the Monash University Accident Research Centre who declared riders are “thrill seekers”.

John rejected the “emotive” comment that demonises riders as a poor reflection on MUARC with no supporting evidence-based data.

Ipswich Bike Nights John Eacott support sentence Returned riders safety risk is a furphy time limit demonises
John Eacott

As we have said before, any report that falsely demonises riders increases the public perception that riders have a death wish and are therefore not worthy of consideration by other road users.

We have contacted transport departments in several states for relevant statistics to show the full picture that includes registrations, engine sizes, crashes, etc.

However, they say it will take several days or even weeks to collate the data.

We will advise when we have received the full picture.

Riders and drivers warned

Meanwhile, in the wake of a recent spate of fatal crashes in Queensland, RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie has issued a warning not only to riders but also drivers.

“Riders don’t have the same level of physical protection as drivers and sadly they’ll always come off second best so it’s important they’re taking precautions like riding to conditions and wearing all their safety gear,” she says.

“It’s critical riders don’t ride beyond their capabilities because when things go wrong on the road, there’s little room for error.”

However, Ms Ritchie adds that drivers also must play a part in keeping motorcyclists safe.

“Motorists can make simple adjustments to their driving like taking the time to look specifically for motorcycles and being vigilant in checking their mirrors or over their shoulder when changing lanes. Those extra seconds looking could save a life.”

  1. It’s disappointing that the erroneous assumption of a linear association of engine capacity with motorcycle ‘power’ persists. For example, cruisers have the largest engines, on average, but the vast majority of them (conservatively, more than 80%) have low power to weight ratio and would be LAMS-compliant if not for the 660 engine capacity restriction. This probably doesn’t surprise most readers here, but it remains either unknown or overlooked by some commentators, despite some researchers’ attempts to point it out:

    Motorcycle Engine Capacity May Not Underlie Increased Risks

    1. Thanks for the linked article. That was an interesting read. Also nice to see that Australia is not alone in this!

  2. Does the police findings demonise all riders, or just those who died?

    While no community likes to be characterised in a poor light; what if the police are correct in their findings? I.e. that the majority of those that died were riding too fast, and crashed either by themselves, or into another vehicle.

    The assumption that simply riding a 500cc and above bike causes fatalities is obviously wrong; however it could more a commentary about bigger bikes being ridden by riders who feel more confident in their abilities. Perhaps akin to drivers that graduate from L plates to P plates whom are often characterised as higher risk drivers.

    While we may not all ride like those who died in the report analysis; surely we could understand how this type of riding (which many riders have done once or twice and got away with it) would result in injury or death…

  3. I would have thought it obvious that riders are thrill seekers. Of course we are. As are people who jump out of planes or climb rock faces. “Life is either a grand adventure or it is nothing at all” (Helen Keller)

  4. Not surprised.
    To paraphrase Casey Stoner… ‘ambition overtaking ability’ is a massive issue.
    Ill advised, unskilled wankers rip past every day doing big speeds when splitting lanes or up the shoulder. Looks and is stupid.
    The way many sit on their bike you can tell they have never done a course.
    Doing stupid crap like that makes it harder for everyone as it draws The Rozzers to us all.
    Have a bit of style.
    If you want to go fast, do a track day.

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