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Call to remove mandatory learner hi-vis

high visibility motorcycle clothing panic remove

The Victorian Motorcycle Council has called to remove mandatory hi-vis vests for learner riders in its 10-page submission to the review of Victorian Road Safety (Driver) Regulations.

Among many changes to the road rules, the road regs review proposes one demerit point for learner riders who do not wear a “securely fastened” hi-vis vest and for failing to display an L plate.

The VMC say there is no proven road safety benefit in either proposal and claim the decreased air flow from a securely fastened vest “could cause accelerated fatigue and heat stress”.

Hi-vis mandated

The learner hi-vis rule was introduced in 2014 despite the state government’s road safety committee citing a European road safety research that found the benefits of wearing a high-visibility vest depended on the time of day and location.

Since its introduction, there has been no study into its effect on crashes among learners and the Traffic Accident Commission does not differentiate learner riders in its statistics. 

South Australia is now proposing hi-vis vests for learner riders as well as a night curfew and higher ages for learner permits.

We could not find any similar hi-vis rules throughout the world except France where all riders must have a minimum fluoro requirement on their jackets.

All riders (and drivers) in France must also carry a hi-vis vest and wear it if broken down on the side of the roads.

Most motorcycle police around the world wear hi-vis gear.

Victoria Solo Unit motorcycle police uniforms remove
Victoria Solo Unit motorcycle police uniforms

However, it didn’t stop this British copper from nearly being hit by a van driver who just didn’t look even though the police officer had hi-vis gear, flashing lights and sirens.

Contrary evidence

University of Melbourne Chair of Statistics and bike rider Prof Richard Huggins has called to remove the rule since it was introduced.

The Prof has reviewed several international studies on motorcycle conspicuity and “look but fail to see” accidents and says there is “sufficient doubt” of the effectiveness of hi-vis to call for a repeal of the mandatory requirement.

He says the studies had varied findings suggesting:

  • Dark clothing is more visible in certain lighting situations;
  • Hi-vis rider gear may be less visible in certain conditions; and
  • Hi-vis clothing could create a “target fixation” for motorists, causing them to steer toward the wearer.

Richard also says he regularly wears a hi-visibility jacket when riding, but has still been hit by a car.

“The driver claimed they didn’t see me, from a distance of less than 2m, as they changed lanes on top of me,” he says.

When the law was introduced, the VMC cited Prof Huggins’s research and objected to the rule on several grounds:

  • Wearing hi-vis clothing may impart a false sense of security for novice riders;
  • Modern research shows that people don’t recognise or react to motorcycles, rather than not seeing them at all;
  • Drivers are more likely to see a bike but make an error in timing;
  • All bikes have hard-wired headlights yet no research has been done on how this affects hi-visibility; and
  • If hi-vis is a real safety issue, why are there no greater penalties for drivers who crash into people wearing them?

Remove L plate proposalLearn learner novice Ride to Review plate remove

The Road Safety Regulations paper also proposes one demerit point for failing to correctly display an L plate.

The VMC has called to remove the proposal, saying it is not a safety issue.

They say a plate can easily fall off a motorcycle resulting in a rider losing their licence and their only mode of transport.

“There is no road safety risk or road user behaviour targeted by the sanction, therefore no genuine road safety objective served,” their submissions says.

“A motorcycle is an arduous exposed environment, experiencing vibration, winds, rain, road grime/fumes and sunlight/UV exposure.

“L plates are typically plastic, embrittle with time and are not very resilient to these exposed service conditions.

“As a result, an L-plate may fall off during a ride without the knowledge of the rider since plates are affixed to the rear of the motorcycle.”

Click here to read the full VMC submission.

  1. Hi-Vis is a furphy drivers do not see you anyway as they are fixated on their phones.

    1. You could dress like Ronald MacDonnell on your bike and it wouldn’t make a scrap of difference.
      Drivers are too insulated from road reality and too occupied in the cocoon environment of their cars to be focused on the real task at hand namely driving.
      Police wear Hi Vis ? Well, they are on their bikes some of the time but significantly they are off the bikes when booking you and on foot on the roads at accidents, traffic problems etc so the Hi Vis is beneficial in those situations. On second thorts…………… ?

  2. I’ve said this before, Hi-Viz on novice riders gives the no protection & provides them with a false sense of security.
    It’s a fantasy world to think a Hi-Viz vest will keep you safe when drivers do a cursory look without actually seeing anything.
    After 46 years of riding, my experience indicates riders should always ride like you’re completely invisible all the times & trust no one!

    1. I don’t see what the big deal is, anything that gives someone a chance of not being hit because they weren’t seen is worth it. While we are at it let’s make it so you don’t have to have a head light running.

      This is all hype driven by a couple people who like to power trip and wind everyone up.

      This is not for experienced riders, it is for learners so experienced riders so to make decisions based on their behalf should come with some consideration for their abilities.

      1. David, you could wear a bell like a cow as well. I guarantee that will save lives. At least for the first few hundred riders until the roads are swamped with them.

  3. Most of the so called safety rules enacted are almost entirely worthless and are only there to look like they’re doing something instead of actually doing something that is proven to work like driver education. It’s far easier and they think cheaper to blame the victim instead of instituting a road craft education program in schools where they not only teach the road rules but how to behave on the road.

  4. I wear a hi viz vest and it has saved me several times when drivers have exited driveways or supermarket car parks. Target fixation I think is the lesser evil.

  5. THE 2 STORM TROOPERS who are FACELESS could be mistaken for PROPS in a STAR WARS Movie Set … WTF?

    I know of SOME A$$Hole Drivers that DELIBERATELY ‘TARGET’ Riders wearing Safety Coloured Vests, they recon that they need scaring off the roads – What can you do to STOP THESE sort of Mongrels except trying to dob them in OR Politely ASK them to Stop it …. HUH ?

    WHY Not HAVE a Dummy Rider Displayed in the Vic Roads Office Where Learners Permits are Given out and ASK the LEARNERS IF they WANT TO WEAR THE ‘SAFETY VESTS’ ? Would THEY FEEL MORE PROTECTED? Hmmmm ???

    NAH ! Just Let the BOOFHEADS in their Ivory Towers make the RULES & LAWS for US – WE ARE MINDLESS SHEEP after all – Aren’t we ?



  6. The problem is that many government safety rules are subject to and put in place to cater to the “less thoughtful” of our population! It appears there is no real evidence to say there is any harm in wearing his vis that outweighs the benefits but instead they say “dont wear it at all” because they dont have any trust that people can have the common sense to remember that they still need to ride as though they are invisible. Safety rules are usually an insult to our intelligence but theres always the few that it really applies to.

  7. Been riding for many years. 99% of the time I wear high visibility vest and white helmet, full gear, etc.

    I think the current rules make sense and I would strongly encourage everyone to be as visible on the roads as possible.

    Anyone arguing against high vis vests cares too much about how cool they look. What I suggest you do is get two mates who also ride, get on a freeway late at night and follow behind them at 50 metres, doing 100 km/h. Now one of your friends should wear all black gear. The other – high visibility vest, white helmet. See for yourself how much easier it is to see high visibility gear as compared to traditional black.

    Finally – if you get hot in the sun from your black helmet and black leather jacket, get a white helmet and put on a yellow high visibility vest. Enjoy the cooler ride!

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