To all VICTORIAN MEMBERS of PARLIAMENT March 20, 2016.
PREMIER DANIEL ANDREWS MLA was in the media a lot last week. He was outraged at brawlers in Melbourne during the Moomba Festival. Quite right too. The Independent Riders Group (IRG) does not condone violence or illegal behaviour. The Premier promised police would have the resources to prosecute these violent law breakers.
Think about this. No one died during the Moomba violence. There were comparatively few injuries and little property damage.
Now think about this. Twenty three motorcycle & scooter riders were killed on Victorian roads in the first ten weeks of 2016! Many more were seriously injured. Families devastated, children traumatized, breadwinners lost and education and careers damaged or destroyed. The Independent Riders’ Group (IRG) offers sincere sympathy to the victims and their loved ones. Most of this trauma was caused by a car driver’s mistake and/or illegal behavior.
Just one post from facebook:
WIN News Gippsland. March 14 at 11:43am · BREAKING:
"A person has died following a collision involving a motorcycle at the intersection of the Princes Highway and Airfield Road, Traralgon. Traffic delays in both directions. Avoid the area if possible. Details tonight at 7pm."
PG wrote: “News tonite on 9WIN another fatal at Traralgon LOOKS LIKE HE (DC - the rider) STOPPED FOR THE LIGHTS AND GOT REAR ENDED. No bloody excuses. Throw the book at the driver responsible for TOTAL negligence."
This violence is not just suffered by motorcycle & scooter riders. Pedestrians and bicyclists are victims too. The task of driving a car has been dumbed down to dangerous levels and driver training has not caught up. BUT, the cause of too many road casualties is a taboo subject. Car drivers’ excuses that “I didn’t see the bike” are too often accepted by police and courts as a reason for road violence rather than an admission of negligence or incompetence or both.
The WIN TV News promotion is typical of the way our society tends to blame the victim when it comes to road use. The fact that a car was even involved in the killing of this reportedly stationary rider is not mentioned in the news promotion.
Car driver error causes massive damage in our community but we are hardened to it until it reaches into our lives and our homes. The cost is almost unbearable but Victorians and their elected
representatives in Parliament bear it.
Brawlers in the City Square caused howls of outrage. A body on a road in Traralgon, a person killed by an allegedly negligent driver rates 30 seconds on the regional TV news.
This Melbourne Age article is a rare look at a real problem.
Motorcycle & scooter statistcs are part of the problem. Powered two-wheeler road crash numbers are inflated with unrider and off-road casualties. This distorts both the development of effective bike crash countermeasures and motorcycle & scooter riders’ image in the media. The vilification of Victoria’s 350,000 plus motorcycle & scooter license holders contributes to road trauma and cost.
Parliamentary Inquiries have time and again documented the lack of reliable crash data. Governments have time and again promised to improve crash data collection and assessment but don’t. Inadequate road crash data kills and maims. Improved data saves lives and costs tax payers less. "Towards vision zero" is an expensive farce if the blame for road trauma is put on victims while public servants do nothing to address their own systemic shortcomings.
Victoria claims to be a road safety world leader but crash data collection and assessment fall far behind world’s best practice. Most car/bike safety initiatives have come from industry initiatives NOT government. The recent motorcycle helmet fiasco testifies to that. Delaying and avoiding acting on reports from our Parliament's Road Safety Committees will increase road trauma and cost, not reduce it.
2005 MARCH. CRASHES INVOLVING ROADSIDE OBJECTS.
Executive Summary. Page viii.
"The Committee noted a number of areas where crash information was missing or could be more detailed. The difficulty obtaining adequate data, in particular travel exposure information to better assess crash risk and target safety treatments, is a continuing issue in Victoria, coming up time and time again in Committee inquiries, Governments agree to improve crash information, yet crash and crash risk information continues to be an impediment to the improvement of roadside safety in Victoria. Crash information recording and publications need to be greatly improved."
2006 AUGUST. INQUIRY INTO DRIVER DISTRACTION.
Chair's Foreword. Page vii.
"One of the problems faced by the Committee during the Inquiry was the lack of a clear definition and information systems which measure distraction and its' role in crashes. The Committee calls on Victorian road safety authorities to develop clear definitions, categories and suitable crash data reporting in order to understand the extent of the problem and to develop appropriate countermeasures."
Executive Summary. Page ix.
"In view of the lack of suitable definitions, categorisations and suitable data, Victoria and most other Australian jurisdictions are not well placed to accurately assess the role of driver distractions in crashes. Recent studies in the United States, together with an ongoing study by the New Zealand Ministry of Transport, provide some insight into driver distraction impacts. Development of comprehensive crash data is a vital first step in guiding future Victorian road safety initiatives relating to drivers distraction." (DC - in guiding ALL road safety initiatives.)
2012 DECEMBER. INQUIRY INTO MOTORCYCLE SAFETY.
Executive Summary. Page xxi.
" ... The first, and arguably most important, theme was the lack of accurate and robust data, both for crashes and trauma. Many arguments, proposals and observations made in submissions and witness statements were based or justified on crash and trauma data. However, the significant data issues identified by the Committee meant much of the evidence presented to the Committee was difficult to verify. ...
Addressing data issues is the single most critical aspect of our future response to motorcycle safety."
As The Age said, current spike in motorcycle & scooter deaths and injuries is not normal. A significant number of these casualties should not be included in road bike figures at all. Government departments know it. Political will is required on the part of our elected representatives to make the required changed to data collection and assessment happen.
The fact is, motorcycle & scooter road riding is safer than it has ever been on Victorian roads in spite of increasing numbers and deteriorating road conditions. Most of the improvements to bike safety in the last two decades have come from better rider training and improved machines and gear, not blitzes or shock horror ads.
The fact is, motorcycle & scooter road riders are legitimate road users who contribute both financially and by reducing traffic congestion and parking shortages. Their numbers will continue to grow with our population.
Riders also spend well as tourists in regional Victoria. Tourism Victoria says riders spend more than $60 million on and around Phillip Island during Moto GP week. That’s an old figure. And, riders go touring every weekend.
On March 23, 2016, the Motorcycle Advisory Group (MAG) will meet. The 2012 Parliamentary Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety called for a review of MAG and more stakeholder involvement. MAG, in its’ current form is a serious impediment to real improvement in motorcycle & scooter safety. VicRoads has repeatedly delayed the recommended review.
If you haven’t already, please take a few minutes to watch these short video clips. The TOY RUN for Father Bob will be on Sunday, December 11, 2016.
The IRG Ride to Work Breakfast 2015.
Damien Codognotto OAM
Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders Group