Nearly half of all motorcyclists have been injured while riding and most claim the actions and attitudes of other road users are putting them at greater risk, according to new research.
The independent research, commissioned by law firm Slater and Gordon, also found that motorcyclists are regularly involved in near misses, with 63 per cent of survey respondents stating that they had been forced into an evasive manoeuvre to avoid a collision at least once in their last five outings.
Slater and Gordon motor vehicle accident lawyer Marko Eric, himself a motorcyclist, said it was particularly concerning that 45 per cent of the 330 riders who took part in the survey stated they had been injured in a motorbike crash.
“If you are in a car that is involved in a minor rear-end collision in traffic, you may walk away with little more than a fright but on a motorcycle the same type of accident could easily be fatal or result in life-long injuries,” Mr Eric said
“Unfortunately for motorcyclists, it can be a very fine line between a near miss and a catastrophic injury.”
TAC statistics show that in the five years to December 2012, crashes claimed the lives of 224 motorcyclists in Victoria and a further 4830 were involved in serious accidents requiring hospitalisation.
Mr Eric said the research pointed to a need for greater understanding between riders and drivers, with more than three-quarters of survey respondents (76 per cent) stating that negative attitudes towards motorcyclists among other road users significantly decreased rider safety.
“Clearly a lot of effort has been put into improving safety standards among riders and reaching out to drivers to be more aware of riders but this research indicates there is still a long way to go,” Mr Eric said.
Survey respondents agreed, with 60 per cent of riders responding that they believed campaigns to raise awareness of motorcyclists needed to go further.
“There is a strong perception among a majority of the injured motorcyclists that I act for that drivers have very little awareness of them on the roads and that that lack of awareness was in some way responsible for their injuries,” Mr Eric said.
When asked to nominate the biggest risk to their safety on the roads, most nominated other drivers failing to see them (60 per cent) followed by poor road conditions including potholes and other obstacles (28 per cent). Only 12 per cent cited risky riding behaviour as the biggest threat to their safety.
Other key findings:
- 69% of motorcyclists believed other road users failed to demonstrate an adequate awareness of riders in close proximity to them on the roads
- 66% believed conflict existed between riders and other road users
The research also highlighted an apparent lack of experience among newly-licenced motorcyclists, with more than one in ten (13 per cent) never having ridden a motorcycle before gaining their licence to ride on the nation’s roads. Twenty-six per cent had ridden less than five times before getting their licence and 35 per cent had ridden less than 10 times.
Sixty-seven per cent of riders believed motorcyclists needed to undergo additional training prior to obtaining their licence, with just 29 per cent believing rider presently received adequate pre-licence training.
Mr Eric supported calls for riders to undergo additional training prior to getting their licence, saying that motorcyclists were among the most vulnerable road users but were required to do far less training than car drivers before being allowed to ride unsupervised on public roads.
“Drivers in Victoria must complete 120 hours of driver training before they can sit for their license but a motorcyclist can turn up at a testing centre having never ridden a motorbike and ride home at the end the day unsupervised,” he said.
The research also uncovered a lack of awareness among Victorian riders around the various benefits they could be entitled to claim from the Transport Accident Commission if they were injured in an accident that was their fault.
Compensation and benefits available to injured at-fault riders in Victoria and percentage of Victorian riders unaware they can claim them:
- Lost income 61 per cent
- Medical expenses 34 per cent
- Rehabilitation 38 per cent
- Vocational training and assistance returning to work 52 per cent
- Cost of home and vehicle modifications 65 per cent
- Household help and gardening services 70 per cent
- Childcare 77 per cent
Mr Eric said anyone injured in a transport-related accident was entitled to claim the above items, regardless of whether the accident was their fault.
“It is concerning that there seems to be a very low understanding of TAC benefits among one of the most vulnerable road user groups and that means that there will be motorcyclists out there who are injured and who are missing out on benefits and support that can ease the financial burden and assist in their recovery,” Mr Eric said.