The Victorian Transport Accident Commission's latest antibike campaign featured a car driving through a stop sign (a three demerit point offence) and killing a motorcyclist who was doing 8 kph over the speed limit (a one demerit point offence). In the TV ad a policeman explains to the millions of car drivers watching that the rider broke the law and his neck because he was speeding. The cop does not say a thing about the car driver's offence. This sends strong messages. It says "Sorry mate, I didn't see you." is a legitimate excuse. The bikie is at fault in a no-fault system because he is. The car driver is not at fault because it is a no-fault system. TAC logic.
It says, don't buy a bike because you will die. It says, if you are on a bike you are at fault. It says buy your children cars so they won't get a bike and die.
Remember the "cup cake killer" up Bendigo way? The highly-trained police driver did a u-turn which would have been questionable in excellent conditions let alone pre-dawn fog, saw the bike's light and did the turn anyway. The rider died. The driver walked with licence in tact.
There was a big backlash to the current TAC antibike campaign. Good to see. But rather than admit their error, TAC wheeled out the spin doctors and apologists and went into damage control mode. I'm told a cop even told a road safety meeting recently that the TAC antibike ad was seen and approved by motorcycle & scooter representatives before it went to air. That did not happen. Some people are saying the cop lied. Maybe, or maybe he just got the wrong info from an anonymous TAC source eh?
I'd like to know what the campaign really cost too. Someone said $1 million! That's laughable. It must have cost a lot more than that and if you ad in the damage control costs ... The money TAC spends making itself look good on TV should be out into better rehab, more ambulances and promotion of safer driving/riding through lower premiums for safer drivers/riders.
One such TAC source gave one of us, an at-fault-because-of-his-transport-choice rider named Simon, some seemingly unsatisfactory answers. I say seemingly because the responses were apparently very satisfactory to TAC bureaucrats.
I have been reviewing your latest motorcycle safety advertisement where the rider hits a car that has failed to give way and breaks his neck. I have a few questions regarding this campaign.
1. Why is the focus of this ad completely on the RIDER'S actions? In the scenario depicted, TWO offences were committed by separate vehicle operators. The offence committed by the operator of the car could have just as easily killed a non-speeding motorcyclist. The ad fails to mention the car performed an ILLEGAL right turn by failing to giving way, and then the car driver is almost completely absolved of responsibility by implying he had NO chance to see the motorcycle because of it's speed. Surely this is the greater evil and should be addressed with greater focus.
2. Why analyse the scenario of 68km/h? What is special about 68km/h, do statistics show that it is the most likely speed for a motorcyclist to be travelling at in a 60 zone? Why not analyse a range of speeds? Hey, let's change just one small thing, what if this accident had happened in a 70km/h zone, would you finally blame the car driver then? You do realise at 80km/h the rider would have already passed the street BEFORE the car turned out without giving way. Equally a rider at 60km/h but much closer to the car would have had a very similar accident. This is not the first time this has been done either, previous TAC pedestrian safety ads have followed EXACTLY the same MO, no analysis of what happens if the primary offence was not committed, just a very specific accident that only happens in very specific circumstances, and blame for the accident incorrectly apportioned to those involved.
3. I note that the "Put yourself in their shoes" motorcycle campaign has also been aired again recently. In my memory, this is the finest motorcycle safety ad the TAC has produced. I have a few minor quibbles with it, but they are more about making it perfect, I believe it is already a very effective presentation. My question is why has this ad been shown so many times during shows that motorcyclists are likely to watch, like MotoGP and various "Man" shows. The reason I like this ad so much is that it reaches out to car drivers who aren't particularly aware, or respectful of motorcyclists. Do you really think people who watch MotoGP don't have awareness or respect for motorcyclists? I'm not saying don't show it, just don't show it every single ad break, spread it around TV so EVERYONE sees it.
I own 3 registered motorcycles, and some of my registration is paying for these campaigns, so I would appreciate your responses on these matters.
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2012 7:42 PM
Subject: Re: Latest Motorcycle safety ad
I have not yet had any reply to my questions. Do you have nothing to say? Are you overwhelmed by similar emails and unable to respond in a timely manner?
As noted previously, I contribute financially to the TAC, and I have no choice about this due to the monopoly status TAC has been granted by the government. I believe I am owed an explanation. If you can't respond by Friday I will be taking the matter further.
Sent: Friday, May 18, 2012 7:33 PM
Subject: Re: Fw: Latest Motorcycle safety ad
Thank you for your emails. My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.
The target audience of this ad is motorcycle riders. One of the aims of the campaign is to make riders aware that by travelling at a speed that is within the posted speed limit and appropriate for the conditions, they can reduce their risk of being involved in a crash, as this will give them more time to react to unexpected situations and can also increase the chance of other road users seeing them properly. However, we agree that it's also very important to educate drivers about the importance of looking out for motorcyclists on the roads and there have been other campaigns (eg. Vice Versa and Look Again) which addresses this specific issue.
We know through our market research that there is still a section of the community, including both riders and drivers, that believe a few kms over the speed limit will not make a difference in crash probability or outcome. Our surveys with riders also found that more than one in four riders self-report speeding for at least half the time they ride, and over half this group report speeding all or most of the time. However, travelling at a speed that is within the posted speed limit and appropriate for the conditions, drivers and riders can reduce their risk of being involved in a crash, as this will give them more time to react to unexpected situations and can affect crash outcomes. For more information on the research between speed and crash outcomes can be found at
In selecting the scenario depicted in our ad, the TAC worked very closed with Police to source the scenario and the relevant calculations.
Thank you for your postive feedback on our 'Put youself in their shoes' campaign. The media was a general media buy targeted across several networks to ensure a wide viewing audience. It would have targeted high rating shows and during the period it was on air, we expect the MotoGP would have been a high rating program.
I thank you for taking the time to write to us.
Thanks for your reply. I can imagine that you must have had quite a few emails about it, the ad has certainly annoyed the motorcycle community quite significantly.
In regards to the TAC scheduling the ad during the appropriate programming. We have all seen the ad many, many times by now. And each time we see it, we get more annoyed. In terms of the ad's effectiveness, it would be fair to say from my point of view and that of my friends, it has been a spectacular failure. It's hard for us to see it as anything other than justification of the speed camera program. Given the tolerances the cameras are set to, it's hard to see this as anything other than using our rego money to support the government propaganda on the speed camera program. Victoria generates almost 3/4 of the national speed camera revenue, yet we don't have 3/4 of the national road toll, so to us simple bike riders this stinks to high heaven.
Please take the time to view a recut of the ad I have made myself. I kept the central message that speeding is bad, but also pointed out the many mistakes that the rider made, apart from speeding. For example, locking the back brake is about the WORST thing you can do to stop a motorcycle, and would be an instant FAIL during a motorcycle licence test.
I also included a scenario where an experienced rider who was NOT speeding used his additional knowledge and skills to remove himself from harms way. Finally, I took the few scant seconds needed to point out the ILLEGAL turn the car driver made. I'm speechless that TAC didn't draw attention to this at all, and in fact tried to excuse the car driver in part of responsibility by stating the speed of the motorcycle prevented him from giving way. Disgraceful, regardless of who the ad is actually "targetted" at. Anytime TAC is advertising on TV they should be putting as much messaging into their ads as possible. With the amount of times the "motorcycle reconstruction" ad has been shown recently, even a simple person would be capable of absorbing multiple road safety messages from it.
The link is below, please take the time to watch it. It should take less time to watch than it will to read this email:
I have been riding for 20 years and ridden more than half a million kilometres. I was a motorcycle courier for 7 years. I can tell you that the only reason I'm still alive is because I practise extreme defensive riding, no matter what speed I'm travelling at. None of the TAC ads aimed at riders have any messages for me that I haven't already learned the hard way personally, or via friends who have had crashes. I don't expect the TAC to make ads specifically for guys like me, I'm already paranoid about safety whenever I ride. I know that my experiences are fairly unique, and that other riders will likely not go through anything like I have. I do have expectations that some car driver education ads will help me by educating car drivers to be more motorcycle aware. As I mentioned previously the "put yourself in their shoes" campaign is an excellent use of TAC resources in my opinion. We all liked that one and would like to see more of it.
Where I get annoyed is when the TAC grossly misrepresents accident situations and ignoring ALL causal factors, so they can conveniently blame speed, the mother of all evils apparently. I have never had an crash while speeding. I've been taken out by cars many times, and over and over "failing to give way" is the culprit. So I hope you can understand why I find your current ad insulting, misleading, poorly thought out, and a missed opportunity to provide some real motorcycle safety messages without alienating motorcyclists. Even if the ads are of little benefit to me, I'd like to think they will be of use to less experienced riders.
As mentioned before, I pay 3 motorcycle registrations, and I feel that the TAC is not spending this money responsibly with it's recent ad campaign. By alienating the riders you are trying to communicate to, you risk those riders tuning out to ALL your messages, which could lead to an INCREASE in fatalaties and injuries in the future. Not in the TACs best interests, I would suggest.
I would appreciate it if you could provide answers to the following questions or point me to a link where I can find them myself:
How many motorcyclists/riders groups, excluding TAC employees, were involved in any way in the creation of this ad?
How many motorcyclists/riders groups, excluding TAC employees, were involved in feedback after the ad was created/aired?
How much money was spent to create the ad?
How much money is budgeted to be spent airing the ad?
I would appreciate your feedback and answers to the above questions.
I thought I'd share my recent progress with the TAC to get this new ad modified or pulled from TV. I spoke with TAC today for about 45 minutes. Unfortunately TAC didn't really have anything new to say I didn't already expect. What was more interesting was what she had nothing to say about. Summary of the main points is below:
I asked about the TAC safety levy, who actually collects the money and why it's been removed as a line item from the rego slip. She told me they collect the money from Vic Roads and it's paid to a separate account, and made pains to explain the TAC does not spend it. She referred me to Vic Roads to ask why it has been removed from the rego slip. She didn't really make any attempt to argue with my point that it seems like someone wants us to forget we are actually paying this charge at all.
(Background on the Victorian TAC antibike tax is at
I also discussed the spokes website with regards to the information there justifying/explaining the new ad. The website states quite clearly that they consider the motorcyclist to be "more at fault" because of his speeding than the car driver who merely "failed to give way." See below:
"With respect to fault, a driver facing a stop sign control under the Road Rules must give way to all vehicles travelling along or turning from the intersecting carriageway. However, there is case law that states, "You cannot give way to something you cannot see". In this ad scenario, the driver looked but the motorcyclist was out of the field of view of the driver because of his 68km/h travel speed. If a vehicle is found to have been speeding in this circumstance, fault is attributed more to the speeding vehicle rather than the vehicle facing the stop or give way sign."
I pointed out that you can "lose" a motorcycle quite easily behind the A pillar of a car, especially if it contains an airbag as these pillars are much thicker. I asked if this would also be a valid legal defence and didn't really get an answer. So I simplified things and pointed out that the motorcyclist committed a 1 demerit point offence, and the car driver committed a 3 point demerit offence, so this logic does not really hold. I got no response to that either, although TAC did point out it is not a lawyer and that Police, not TAC, charge drivers after accidents.
I also pointed out that many motorcyclists have taken great offence to the TAC providing legal defence information to car drivers who cause motorcycle crashes on a MOTORCYCLE SAFETY WEBSITE. TAC didn't have anything to say about that at all. There was a rather uncomfortable silence at this point. It was hard to tell if TAC actually felt uncomfortable about it, or genuinely had not considered this before. I also made the point that if doing 68 in a 60 zone makes you "invisible" then there should be a much greater safety margin, and basically they are putting Vic Roads in a position where they could be considered culpable for these kind of deaths. TAC rejected that, but I'm not sure if they looked at it from this angle prior to making the ad.
I asked who had been consulted regarding the ad and all I got was "focus groups." I've read that someone at VMAG had spoken with TAC and was told "something was under development" but they were given no details. I didn't specifically raise this, but I put it to TAC that the TAC could not have possibly consulted with any riders groups, or their inputs were ignored because they would have raised many of the issues I raised in my own emails. She didn't dispute this so I can only assume it's true and only focus groups were used.
I also asked why so many other bad behaviours were ignored by the ad. Failing to give way, locking the rear brake, etc and was told that they focus on "single messages" in these ads because they dont want to overwhelm or confuse people, and it's hard to get more than 1 message across in 30 seconds. I pointed out that the full ad is 1 minute, and that I must have seen the ad at least 100 times on commercial tv recently. With such repetition it should surely be possible for people to absorb multiple safety messages from the ad. Didn't really get a response to that either.
Unfortunately I didn't learn very much from the whole experience, except to get a few things confirmed which I already suspected, but hoped weren't true. Basically, they don't give a shit about us and would be happy as hell if we all stopped riding tomorrow. I said that the only thing that would make me happy would be to pull the ad or modify it substantially, which got the reply "I can't commit to that."
So the fight continues :)