Road safety week (21st - 27th November 2011) is almost upon us but it seems to me motorcyclists are frequently left out in the cold when it comes to road safety and campaigns to raise awareness for particular groups of road users.
I was delighted to see the recent award for Around the Corner (ATC) - a campaign which is fully supported by MLS. ATC encourages riders to take part in post test training as it's a recognised means of reducing the risk of accidents by equipping riders with the skill to get out of trouble. However, nothing can equip you to avoid accidents where motorists just don't see you. Here lies the problem; attitude!
In my line of work I do come across prejudice and injustice. In many ways, it was that which encouraged me to set up Motorcycle Law Scotland to provide a service to motorcyclists and give them a voice. Why is it that if you mention a motorcycle accident, the first question asked is, "what speed"? It's common for insurance companies to seek to reduce an award to a motorcyclist by suggesting they were speeding, often without a shread of evidence in support.
As motorcyclists, we do take our safety seriously. At junctions we are looking for eye contact and if we don’t get it, will throttle off, alter our road position and even brake. That increases your risk of being hit by a dozy car driver paying insufficent attention to what is ahead of him. After all, how many car drivers slow at junctions if they don’t think the emerging vehicle has seen them.
Motorcyclists constantly scan the road surface for defects and attempt to anticipate what other motorists will do. Defensive riding can help to reduce our risk of being involved in an accident. So why is it that there is a commonly held view that if you ride a bike and are involved in an accident, you are the author of your own misfortune?
I am now on a mission to set the record straight and hopefully, during road safety week, I can raise awareness of our needs. I would like to demonstrate what I know to be true, which is, we take our safety seriously. I accept we are vulnerable to injury because a motorcycle offers little protection if a car pulls out in front of you. Some really powerful campaigns in the past such as "Think once, think twice, think bike" have helped but there is still an underlying prejudice.
I need your help. If you are reading this, can you go on to our website and complete the survey . I promise it will take less than a minute and to thank you, we'll enter you into the free prize draw for £100 voucher for motorcycle accessories.
The results will hopefully be used to show that motorcyclists consider safety on the road to be of paramount importance. It will also show that many motorcyclists have already taken additional post test training to improve their skills and many more would like to take advantage of rider training if it was affordable and there was an incentive such as reduced motor insurance premiums.
I would like to use the results to dispel commonly held beliefs about us.