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”.
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.
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?