AdviceLife on bikes

Speed kills. Or does it?

Guest contributor Trevor Baird of the Motorcycle Minds website takes a look a controversial, but reasoned, view on the Speed Kills campaign.

When you have been around rider’s issues for two decades in various forms and when those issues inevitably end up concerning motorcycling road safety a difference of approach is welcome.

Such an approach recently followed the publication of the 2015 National Statistics (Great Britain) on road collisions.

Mike Abbot at The British Superbike School delved into these statistics. He concluded that the “Speed Kills” strap line (the usual rhetoric used in road safety circles) is a big fib and should be abandoned.

Mike Abbot of British Superbike School
British Superbike School’s Mike Abbot. Image Copyright: www.img-photography.co.uk

The “Speed Kills” strapline perhaps is just possibly an easy solution to use for blame when looking for an overarching one-stop panacea.

Mike says that after abandoning the misleading strap line, the need is to “focus on paying attention, train road users properly and significantly increase the levels of traffic policing as RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) have recently proposed.”

Adding that, “A new course is needed on ‘Collision Avoidance’ based on data and solid theory, not hysteria; on the cause of collisions, the dangers of losing control and how that can be avoided, and the importance of always paying attention stressed.

This could be applied primarily to drivers and riders who have collisions and serious offenders, not marginal speeders who present at best a very low risk.”

Finishing with, “We have collectively allowed ourselves to be hijacked by the anti-speed lobby and misleading populist newspaper stories, and the Government taking an ineffective soft self-funded option rather than dealing properly with the root causes of road fatalities.”

He has also picked up from what he has been told that, “more than half the drivers in the country have now done a Speed Awareness course for minor speed infractions. That’s circa 23 million courses at £90 a go, plus no doubt a healthy profit for the AA who delivers them. Drivers and riders have lost time off work and been fleeced collectively for an estimated £2 billion.”

Having had to take one these courses he surmises that his was, “dominated by confused pensioners (my peer group) many of whom misunderstood how fast they could legally go, so they’ll probably go faster as a result. And we all no doubt spent the next few months looking for speed signs and cameras, as opposed to where we were going.”

However while taking some of the headlines from Mike’s well-constructed article/rant, it is effectively from the perspective of somebody who is actually involved, through the:
• British Superbike School, which provides circuit tuition in motorcycle handling, mastering bike control away from road hazards.
SharpRider a DVSA ‘Enhanced Rider Scheme’ intended as extra training for full ‘A’ motorcycle licence holders.

Mike says, “We are simply not tackling the primary root causes of fatalities.”

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You may or may not agree with what he has written, whatever perspective of road safety you come from: as an “expert”, an enthused rider or motorcycle trainer, but as Mike has said to us, ‘Advanced Instructors’ mostly fall out with each other anyway, and I am just waiting to be shot at yet again for encouraging reckless riding – it’s become a bit of a theme.” Why would this be any different?

We have no doubt there will be disagreement, in fact, we know there are many opinions on aspects of improving road safety – reducing collisions – reducing injuries and fatalities.

The full article from Mike can be found on The British Superbike School website and explains in more depth how Mike came to his conclusions.

Trevor Baird is a seasoned campaigner on biking issues, a former General Secretary of the Motorcycle Action Group and representative of FEMA, the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations where he was involved in influencing the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s policies on vehicle regulations and road traffic safety.

After nearly 40 years on bikes, starting with the ultra-classic Yamaha DT 175MX, he’s done the usual obsession with GS’s, done the Fireblade and is now very happy to cruise on his Yamaha XV950.

You can read more from Trevor at www.motorcycleminds.org

Get yourself sorted:

The government report and the statistics upon which Mike Abbot based his conclusions can be read in full here.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Biker & Bike.

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