At Revolution Bike Finance, we like motorcycle riders. Since many of us are motorcycle riders ourselves, and we’re all in the motorcycle finance business, riders have become our extended family. We have always been vocal about the need for riders to ride safely, because we want to see our clients, past, present, and future, make it back safe and sound from every ride, every time, with no exceptions.
While even one motorcycle death is too many, we are still very happy to see the recently released report from the Bureau for Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Economics (BITRE) on motorcycle deaths. According to the report, motorcycle deaths went down 10% in 2012. For the twelve-month period ending in April 2012, deaths decreased 10.4% compared to the previous twelve months.
A total of 198 motorcyclists had fatal incidents in Australia during the previous twelve months. While we still wish that number was zero, we are still encouraged by the fact that the number is going down. The Australian Motorcycle Council also computes data per 10,000 registrations, and the numbers are even better. According to Shaun Lennard, AMC Chairman, “When analysing deaths per 10,000 registrations, you see just how significantly the situations has actually improved over time.”
In the period from 2002 through 2006, there was a steady number of five deaths per 10,000 registrations. As the registrations increased, the deaths increased. In 2011, the rate was slightly less than two deaths per 10,000 registrations. As we do, Lennard would like to see the number go even lower, but he is also encouraged that the number of deaths per 10,000 registrations has decreased on an average of 6.7% over the last decade, and 12.7% in 2011.
Lennard concluded that “Riding a motorcycle or scooter in Australia has never been safer,” and we agree with him. Still, like Lennard, we would like to see the number go even lower.
So, why are motorcycle deaths decreasing and how can we get them even lower? We think that there is an increasing awareness of rider safety, helped out by numerous campaigns. Nearly every state has some kind of campaign for motorcycle rider safety. Even some road racing celebrities such as Mick Doohan have put out videos on rider safety. We think that motorcycle riders are simply a lot more aware and a lot more prepared now than they were then.
Also, personal protective equipment (PPE) has become much more effective through technological advances. We also think that safety equipment has become much less of a source of peer derision than it used to be. Certainly, the sheer amount of information now available on the Internet has helped, too. The Internet is so ubiquitous that most people now routinely use the Internet to check facts about things that concern them.
For example, if someone says, “Fuel tank mounted airbags are rubbish,” the person to whom it was said can visit the motorcycle safety page or website and find out that a fuel tank mounted airbag can reduce the chance and severity of head trauma by 83% when a motorcycle hits a car. Or, they can uncover the ironic fact that, even though many advances have been made in clothing, the old standby leather jacket is more effective than modern Kevlar in preventing abrasions.
So, how can it get even better? The same old safety fundamentals that have been drilled into us forever still apply. First of all, speed kills. A classic Western Australia study done in 2008 showed that 66%, or almost two thirds, of crashes were at speeds over 50 km/h. These numbers speak more loudly than a volume of books could: the faster you ride, the more likely you are to have an accident.
A recent study by the Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety-Queensland (CARRS-Q) confirms the WA study, and adds some other sobering numbers. In the period from 2006-2010, 39% of motorcycle riders who were killed were speeding. 30% of those who died had inappropriate levels of either alcohol or drugs in their blood. “Only” 7% were not wearing a helmet, but that is still 7% who might have been saved. Also, speeding and alcohol are far more likely to be the cause of a single-vehicle crash than a multi-vehicle crash.
There are other factors, such as risk-taking, road surface, difficulty braking, the instability of being on two wheels instead of four, and the fact that a car or truck driver can’t see a motorcycle nearly as well as a motorcycle rider can see a car.
The numbers vary from study to study, but the pattern is the same. We are happy that motorcycle fatalities have gone down so much, but we want to see them go down even more. We know it is very unlikely, but wouldn’t it be great if we had a year where nobody died on a motorcycle? Before taking on a bike loan for a new bike, learn and practice road safety first.