Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, at every Intersection, every lane change, every time.
When it comes to crashes between cars and motorbikes, most of them occur at intersections, or when drivers are changing lanes. There have been 2,758 crashes involving a motorcycle or moped at urban intersections in the past four years, Waka Kotahi data shows.
Of those, 538 involved serious injury and there were 38 fatalities. Ministry of Transport data shows that drivers are at fault in 90% of crashes between cars and motorbikes at urban intersections.
A common term within the motorcycle community is SMIDSY – “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”. This is usually the first words a driver says when they hit a motorcyclist. Usually, the reason behind this is something called saccadic masking. The brain fails to process certain eye movements and replaces them with a recent memory. This means that if a driver is checking the road is clear by doing a quick check, they likely won’t see a motorcyclist. Motorcycles are also easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by other objects, such as road signs.
To avoid SMIDSY crashes, drivers need to adopt a different approach when checking if the road is clear. Instead of using a continuous head movement, it is recommended that a driver should pause for a fraction of a second at three points, once on the left, once on the right, and once straight ahead, which will help check your close, middle and long-distance vision. Drivers should do this for at least two checks before changing lanes and at intersections. This stops the eyes from sending incomplete images to the brain. If every driver carried this out, it is estimated it could reduce the risk of car crashes by a quarter.
Since 2017, there have been 33 crashes involving motorcycles in the Selwyn District; with 13 of those crashes being serious or fatal. Selwyn District Council supports multiple motorcycle safety initiatives in the district to help reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes.
Ride Forever is an ACC initiative that aims at giving motorcyclists sound advice and the chance to upskill for safety. Ride Forever offers On-Road Coaching, which is the only nationally available, certified rider coaching programme in New Zealand. There are multiple levels of On-Road Coaching available to suit all needs or give riders the chance to work their way to having the most advanced skills. The courses range from 4-8 hours in length and $20 - $50 in cost.
To remove any barrier to completing the On-Road Coaching, if you are a Selwyn resident and you complete a Ride Forever course with any of the three Canterbury trainers, the Selwyn District Council will arrange to cover the cost through your trainer. All you have to do is pay for the registration and then once you have completed the training, your trainer will reimburse you the cost. The Ride Forever website has a wealth of information about gear, techniques, events, online and on-road coaching, and a variety of other motorcycle subjects.
The Selwyn District Council supports Kickstart, a Canterbury motorcycle safety initiative that is run as a one-day or roadside event that promotes rider training.
In 2019, Kickstart wasn't a one-day event, it was a series of roadside coffee stops, where we shouted you a coffee, you could chat with our Ride Forever trainers, sign up for a Ride Forever course, and had the chance to go in the draw to win prizes.
In 2020, we ran a Kickstart event. This was a one-day event where riders sat in on information sessions around bike maintenance and safety, chatted with our Ride Forever trainers, watched live safety demonstrations, and purchased food from local food vendors. There were also chances to purchase gear and go in the draw to win a series of prizes.
The Kickstart team runs regular events across Canterbury. Follow the Kickstart Facebook page to keep up to date with news, competitions, and safety information.
Motorcycle Awareness Month
In September we take part in Motorcycle Awareness Month. You'll see some promotion around getting people to look out for motorcyclists. If people see you, they are far less likely to pull out in front of you.
Here's a tip though; one of the biggest problems is motorcyclists riding in places where people can't see them. An alert motorcyclist thinks about whether people can see them or not, and adjusts/uses their position to make themselves more visible.
In this example, the yellow motorcyclist is visible to the opposing car driver, the red motorcyclist isn't. Using your road position to maximise your safety is something you can learn on Ride Forever courses.