OTHER ROAD USER BEHAVIOUR
Most motorcycle accidents involve a collision with
another vehicle, usually with a car, but large vehicles
also feature strongly. Although, there is much that
motorcyclists can do to avoid such collisions, the
behaviour of drivers is equally crucial.
There are many accidents in which the motorcyclist
is using the road responsibly and safely, but is put
at risk because a driver fails to do the same. Drivers
need to be aware of the characteristics, needs and
vulnerability of motorcyclists.
The in-depth study of motorcycle accidents55 showed that right of way violations
accounted for about 38% of motorcycle accidents. They were usually the fault of
the other road user, who was usually a driver. Most occurred at T-junctions, although
they also happened at crossroads and roundabouts.About two-thirds of these types
of crashes, where the rider was not to blame, the driver failed to see a rider
who was in clear view (and was often seen by other road users). In about 12% of
these cases, the driver failed to see the motorcyclist even though s/he was wearing
high visibility garments or using daytime running lights.
research9 reached similar conclusions, finding that nearly two-thirds (62%) of
motorcycle accidents were primarily caused by the other road users. Half of the
accidents were caused by car drivers, and 10% by pedestrians. Two-thirds of motorcycle
accidents where the driver was at fault were due to the driver failing to anticipate
the action of other traffic.
A great deal of emphasis has been placed on the need for motorcyclists to be as
conspicuous as possible with day time running lights and riders wearing fluorescent
and reflective clothing and an increased frontal area56. Other research57 has
concentrated on the attitudes of drivers having found that drivers who are involved
in collisions with motorcycles have less familiarity with motorcycles. Even with
their increased popularity, motorcycles are still comparatively uncommon on our
streets and drivers fail to consider them when making decisions at junctions.
Research58 has identified a third factor involved in this type of collision. When
waiting at junctions, drivers estimate the time-to-arrival for smaller, closer
vehicles such as motorcycles as later than for larger, further away, vehicles
such as cars and vans. This research suggests that drivers will underestimate
how close a motorcycle is and pull out into smaller gaps than they would for a
car or van. This optical illusion has serious consequences for motorcyclists,
and drivers need to be made aware when at junctions, not only to look out for
motorcycles but, to assume that the motorcycle they see is closer to the junction
than they appear to be.
Department for Transport has commissioned research into drivers attitudes and
skills in relation to motorcyclists.
When overtaking a motorcyclist, drivers should give the rider the same amount
of passing space as if overtaking another four-wheeled motor vehicle. Drivers
of large vehicles in particular need to give motorcyclists plenty of room when
overtaking them, as two wheelers are easily affected by side wind and the draught
created by overtaking vehicles. Two wheelers may need to suddenly avoid a pot
hole, debris or spillage on the road, and drivers should be prepared for unexpected
movements, and keep a safe distance between themselves and motorcyclists.
Other Road User Behaviour - Conclusion
While motorcyclists can help themselves by increasing their conspicuity, it is
essential that drivers are aware that motorcyclists may be present on any road,
at any time.
that motorcyclists are more difficult to spot, drivers must be aware of the need
to look carefully for them. The slogan “Think Bike” is as relevant today as it
ever was. Government road safety publicity campaigns rightly target drivers with
key messages to raise their awareness that they need to look out for motorcyclists,
especially at junctions.
Further research into the behavioural aspects of drivers in regard to motorcyclists
is needed to help develop appropriate counter-measures.