Road Safety News
 

Officers engage with bikers on Merseyside

Monday 3rd August 2015

Police and road safety officers on Merseyside engaged with 100 motorcyclists as part of a joint safety initiative designed to help keep them safe on the region’s roads.

Officer from Merseyside Police, Mersey Tunnels Police and Wirral Council’s road safety team were available to speak to, and collect basic information from bikers at the entrance to the Mersey tunnels on the morning and afternoon of Thursday 30 July.

Riders were given information and advice about riding in Merseyside, and the police’s Bikesafe scheme, and also received a free biker-related gift.

Sergeant Paul Mountford, from Merseyside Police’s roads policing team, said: “We wanted riders to share some of their experiences with us so we can hear first-hand what and where the dangers are for motorcyclists.

“It was their chance to speak to police and road safety officers who are themselves bikers.”

Since 2010 there has been an 84% rise in motorcycle casualties in Merseyside. In 2014 there were 290 crashes involving motorcyclists in Merseyside. 111 riders were killed or seriously injured while a further 116 other road users were seriously injured as a result of motorcycle crashes.

Sergeant Mountford continued: "We recognise that the vast majority of bikers ride sensibly and safely. However, there will always be a minority of riders who take dangerous risks, either by speeding or riding recklessly.

“We also recognise the importance of drivers looking out for bikers, particularly at junctions and giving them extra consideration. Saying “sorry, I didn’t see them” will not cut the mustard with officers, and drivers can expect the full rigour of the law.”

“Throughout the summer we will be using unmarked and camera equipped police vehicles to detect careless and dangerous riders and drivers who are a danger to themselves and other road users.

“Our approach on enforcement has not changed; we will robustly enforce the law to reduce the risk to all road users”.

Comments

Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

Are the Motorcycle Police ever used to report on what they see and may consider to be dangerous roads or bends, surfaces or other situations that can be seen from their professional point of view, and when informed could not the local authority implement some form of examination and intervention based upon the knowledge of that officer confirmed maybe by that of his colleagues?

Not only police but other professionals, instructors, riders, could possible be asked to report on certain roads and possibly put forward a report for the LAs consideration. Especially and particularly roads that are identified as being a problem for motorcyclists.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

Martin's point is a very valid one indeed. Far too many year's ago I found an Alpha 4 into 1 exhaust was an excellent deterrant for pedestrians and that awkward junction moment.
Gareth, Surrey

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

My daughter rides daily and is on a horse care & management apprenticeship scheme. Some of her charges are spooked by a piece of paper, and some by puddles in the road. My motorcycles have never suffered these traits. It may be a fine pastime, but in two years, my daughter has been thrown off many more times than I have from motorcycles in the past 52yrs, and she is assessed as a very good rider.

With regard to the use of horns. Sadly when collision is imminent, there is no time for its use. But I also have used the horn when seeing a possible situation. Unfortunately, in many cases it has been taken as hostile, and pedestrians especially frown on its use, and in some cases the sounding has had no effect, and emergency braking deployed. Nonetheless, it still gets used.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

Thanks for that Honor.

Just as bye the bye about overtaking slow moving traffic and running over a single white line on your side, usually on a bend to prevent dangerous overtaking, the Highway Code does mention cyclists and horses and road machinery all travelling at below 10 mph. No mention of pedestrians, with or without dogs, or sheep or cattle but, and this is about horses, they can be overtaken if being ridden or walked but if they form part of a carriage it is against the law to overtake if it means proceeding over any white line.

Many motorists get annoyed when overtaken by a motorcyclist where there is a white line but it is only unlawful if going over or straddling the white line. If there is sufficient space to overtake without doing so then the overtake is not illegal. Maybe stupid or insensitive sometimes, but not illegal. The same applies to any slow moving vehicle other than those mentioned above. They are the only legal exceptions no matter what may be in the way.

Bikers will also overtake on broken white lines where there are hash markings. That is not an illegal act but if an accident occurs they will be held liable. The exception is where the middle lines are chevrons or there is a solid white line on your side.
Bob Craven Lancs....Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)
+1

Mark,
Thank you for being so courteous to that rider. I ride horses on roads in the Dales very regularly and I have to say that bikers are invariably considerate and patient, which is much appreciated. This incident sounds to me like an inexperienced rider for the rider to have dismounted as you have better control on the horse than beside it and getting off a spooking horse is risky in itself.

Reflective materials can catch a horse out if the sun or lights catch them - it's an instinctive response to the reflection of a predators eye. But it is unusual and if riders train their horses to get them used to these things – off road before they venture out, it shouldn't be an issue. We always recommend familiarisation training for traffic off road then on less used roads with a steady and experienced horse from which the novice will learn – horses are herd animals and learn much from how others react or don’t react.

The British Horse Society and the Pony Club both run road safety training courses for riders and their horses – we strongly recommend that every rider should get their road safety qualification. The British Driving Society provides similar courses for those intending to drive a horse drawn vehicle on the road – also strongly recommended. It’s also a great way to meet others who share your interest and they are incredibly helpful with tips and friendly help for newcomers.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

Apart from mechanical or biological failure, the odd suicide and so called ‘acts of God’ road traffic collisions are the result of poor choices by one or more of the parties involved, which generally occur as a result of prediction failure.

If motorcyclists kept control in their own hands and didn’t rely on other road users to do the right thing and always chose to ride their bikes at a speed such that they could stop comfortably on their own side of the road within the distance they can see to be clear, we’d have it sorted. If only it were that simple.

As for high viz clothing, yes, I do wear it whilst riding my bike and I do look like a bright over sized lemon! Some years ago I rode past a horse on a country lane and the rider was wearing mid brown and green clothing – really blended well into the surrounding foliage. Having slowed down and ridden past the animal giving it lots of room I looked in my mirrors and saw that the horse had become somewhat spooked and the rider had dismounted.

I parked the bike some distance away and went to see if the rider was ok only to be told that whilst it was appreciated that I had ridden past quietly and slowly doing all the right things, my high visibility clothing was responsible for spooking the horse – I kid you not!
Mark - Wiltshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

Very good point from Martin. One could be forgiven for thinking that motorcycles don't have horns as I can't recall when or if I've ever heard one being sounded. Let's not forget that the horn is only to be used to warn other road users of your presence which is eactly what this item is about.

With hi-vis clothing, the horn, due diligence and defensive riding, it's difficult to see how the sensible rider would allow these incidents to happen at all. I can only presume that there must be some riders out there who do not think that SMIDSY is a scenario they need to guard against, whereas others do. To quote from the DfT campaigns - 'THINK!'
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

It's a very interesting discussion here, but why has no one mentioned, perhaps the motorcyclist's greatest weapon in the war against perceptual blindness....the horn.

I regularly speak to motorcyclists who have had "SMIDSY"s and ask if they used their horn, to warn of their approach to a vehicle in a side road. The answer is usually a puzzled look, which I take to mean that it never dawned on them.

I find the horn (plus a friendly nod of the head as I pass) is every bit as useful as high viz clothing (which I also use, but don't assume will be the answer to perceptual blindness).
Martin: Suffolk

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)
+9

The court of opinion might be out on the fact that movement breaks camouflage Bob, but the court of informed scientific understanding is very much 'in' I'm afraid.

In his book 'The Eye' Simon Ings writes: "Most animals care very little for the substance of things. They are much more interested in where things are going. If it moves, it matters. Moving targets may be threats, meals or mates. The earliest image-forming eyes evolved, not to detect objects, but to detect their motion... Humans are foragers; we take more than usual interest in what things are, but even our eyes are tuned, first and foremeost, to motion."

When we understand that if it moves it matters we must also understand that if it doesn't move then in all likelyhood it doesn't matter either and this is one of the the key pieces of understanding at the heart of the SMIDSY problem.

If as much effort had been put into promoting movement as the key to being detected as there is in the promtion of hi-viz and daytime running lights then there would be far fewer SMIDSY's and far fewer KSI's.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (3) | Disagree (4)
-1

If all motorcycle-vehicle collisions were due to perceptual blindness, there would be no point in wearing high vis or any other attempt to make oneself more visible. But there are numerous other causes of collisions with perceptual blindness undoubtedly a factor in some of them - what about all the other situations?

A collision is a random multifactor event. It is reasonable to consider the breadth of potential scenarios and to do what one can to reduce at least some of those likelihoods so far as one is able – as per Duncan’s elaboration of Defensive Driving/Riding techniques and thinking.

Being visible to other road users, especially those who, in a collision, may do you more harm than you could them (hunter/hunted) makes basic survival sense.

There have been numerous occasions when I have encountered pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders during daylight hours yet they are very hard to see under trees, in shadow at the road edge, until I am quite close, even when they move. (And I do get my eyesight checked regularly before you ask!) Those who wear hi-viz are much more visible in those situations and from further away giving me more time to see and accommodate them. Which is why I wear hi-viz when I ride my horse.

This will not cover every eventuality in every case but it does help some situations some of the time. There is no magic solution that will prevent every collision. I don’t think every mitigation measure should be dismissed just because it isn’t all encompassing. We don’t engineer on that basis. So why wouldn’t you add an element to your risk management by wearing hi viz?
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)
+2

Whilst in the police service working nights one understands that the eye is attracted both to light and to movement. It is therefore important to understand that one must force oneself to look into dark places against the instinct to look at the lighter ones. Light becomes more apparent during night time hours and of course loses most of its value in bright daylight.

So under a number of different circumstances one can become more prevalent than the other. Its been a contentious issue since the 1970 about headlights on and the wearing of hi vis during daylight riding conditions and there are many arguments for and against such apparel having made any difference to the accident statistics. The Police and other emergency circumstances wear them and have one of the most visible machines on the road and yet they can still become involved in a smidsys. As regards movement it is presumed that a motorcyclist by swerving across the roadway can break his outline from his background and therefore make himself more visible. The court of opinion is still out on that one. Others argue that it's the driver's problem in that for whatever reason they either do not look and see an oncoming motorcyclist or that they have seen one but fail to appreciate its oncoming approach speed and therefore a smidsy results. That may be so but it fails to take in the other two causes. One being that the driver never bothered to look in the first place (therefore not a smidsy) and two that they saw the motorcyclist but didn't care and came out anyway due to whatever circumstances may have been going on in the brain at the time or whatever his motive was at the time.
Bob Craven Lancs....Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

There is absolutely no evidence in any of the literature that the wearing of hi-viz clothing defeats the various forms of perceptual blindness. Sadly this makes objects like cyclists and motorcyclists no easier to detect against the background clutter at short and medium ranges. There is evidence however that isolated islands of hi-viz colours become more detectable against background clutter with increasing distance from the observer.

Human beings have very good colour vision, but we don't have a great deal of it as the colour sensitive cells in the retina only cover a cone of around 5 degrees of arc. A thumbnail at arms length covers about the same range. As the cone expands with distance there is a greater chance of a hi-viz object falling within it and being detected as an object seperate from the other objects that surround it.

With over 90% of the light sensitive cells in the retina being tuned to the detection of movement it is movement that is the best and easiest way to defeat perceptual blindness in all its forms. It's the knowledge of this simple fact that caused human beings to adopt the wave as the easiest form of non verbal communication. If you want to attract attention to yourself then jumping up and down and waving your arms about is a much better strategy than staying perfectly still and wearing a brightly coloured top.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)
+4

I think I have concluded in my own mind that by ensuring I look carefully every time I get to a junction then I can overcome "perceptual blindness". Or am I being over confident? I will feel safer in Surrey on my occasional visits with drivers like Gareth around!!
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

Not being dressed like a lemon could cause things to go pear-shaped due to the actions of a bad apple. Life isn't always a bowl of cherries.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)
+3

I would rather continue to ride watching out for SMIDSY situations than ride dressed up as a lemon.
Pat, Wales

Agree (4) | Disagree (10)
-6

Would it not help if hi-vis clothing became mandatory for motorcyclists and cyclists to help them be seen? Some already do wear them and it is easier to pick them out, as shown in the photo.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (5)
-2

Perceptual blindness is a catch-all term that encompasess inattentional blindness Bob. It's an interesting idea that it is because these perfectly natural and not usually deliberate human shortcomings cannot be mitigated in law that they are not worthy of greater study.

Perhaps if some bright Lawyer sucessfully defended a case so it did become a mitigating circumstance I'm sure that people would be falling over themselves to find out more about the problem. They would need to determine ways of finding the difference between genuine perceptual failures and deliberate acts so that prosecutions would be based on a sound scientific footing.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

Hunter or hunted - an interesting approach and one that deserves more enquiry. Duncan's earlier post provides an excellent summary explanation of the well established and widely promoted principles and aims of Defensive Driving.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

I find the thread of perceptual blindness fascinating but personally it does not sit happily with myself as an excuse for a collision at a junction?

As a lay person the Skoda advert & TfL bear advert are just a bit of fun and I feel do not accurately reflect what or what may not be happening at a junction.

As a rider/driver at a junction I am constantly scanning for movement as my mind reacts, dismisses or notes before I decide to pull away.

If a mistake is made surely this is because I have not looked properly and that may well may include looking at the wrong things or allowing myself to become fixated in only one direction or not looking at all?

I do understand the argument that a four wheel user may not look for a two wheeled user?

But most importantly for me is that a well trained rider/driver will not allow themselves to be distracted by the telephone, radio, waving bears other passengers and what "I am going to have for tea tonight thoughts?"

Many of you may feel I have a sort of perceptual blindness with my answer which I may well have? But as far as I am concerned there is no substitute for training until the experts show us more.
Gareth, Surrey

Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
+4

Does perceptual blindness occur during a quick hurried look to the right at a junction or can it occur with a slow and careful look to the right at a junction?
Nick, Lancashire

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

Three comments from me:

1. I do find it disappointing when statistics regarding so-called 'motorcycle crashes' are quoted, that one of the key ones is left out - what the figures are regarding how many were caused by the car driver.

2. There is some talk here of the human hunter/gatherer idea and how we are programmed to seek the target. I think we would do well, as car drivers, to reverse this psychology ... and perhaps we already do - to feel hunted as when a lorry is approaching that junction. Part of the problem perhaps with approaching motorcycles is that we don't feel vulnerable enough! Perhaps the damage a side impact from a motorcycle could cause to a car driver (more than from a wider car perhaps?) should be better illustrated?

3. We have a high perception of other road users if they happen to be a marked-up police vehicle. (Again, we feel as if we are the hunted in this scenario!). High visibility is important and the use of dipped headlights for daytime driving has always been one of the measures available to motorcyclists. However, this ridiculous European fashion for cars having daytime lighting is undoubtedly harmful to the prospects of the motorcyclist and must be reversed asap.
Doug Harris, Stockton-on-Tees

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)
+3

That is presuming that perceptual blindness is in fact a factor in any accident. As yet it is not recognised, thank goodness, otherwise all incidents would be mitigated by such circumstances and therefore excusable. Yes I agree that we all can and (do) possibly suffer perceptual blindness from time to time but one can also suffer from inattention, ie being engrossed in some other activity other than driving. This possibly plays a bigger part in those circumstances where two vehicles end up occupying the same space at the same time (that's an old one). As you say there are many combinations of circumstances that play their part and many more contributory factors that may remain unknown and unrecognised by the reporting officer and again fail to appear in stats.

Maybe the thinking is wrong when it comes to perceptual blindness and that this is the natural state of our species. As such we were designed as a hunter gatherer and when hunting we have eyes that both look forward to perceive moving objects ie. the prey and as such we can follow its path and throw something at it having made the necessary adjustments for speed, distance and force and wind direction and strength etc. in order to kill or disable the prey and survive.
Bob Craven Lancs....Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

It's a most excellent question Bob as a better understanding of how things usually go right is the basis for understanding how things occasionally go wrong.

We all suffer from these various perceptual blindnesses that's a fact, but it's in what circumstances or combination of circumstances we suffer from them that actually matters. Perceptual blindness problems seem to have their greatest effect at junctions, but that doesn't mean that we don't suffer from them at other times, just that we may not notice them or they just don't matter in those particular circumstances (the Skoda ad being a good example).

The combination of circumstances where perceptual blindness really matters is when (1) two road users one of whom is perceptually blind are both able to (2) access the same piece of tarmac at (3) exactly the same time. We would expect such a combination of circumstances to be quite rare which indeed they are, but they are not impossibly rare and that's why we have collisions. If a person is perceptually blind then they can really do nothing about managing the situation because to them there is no situation. To the other road user however they have got lots of options available to manage the situation to their advantage. If the non-blind road user can see the combination of circumstance (2) and circumstance (3) then it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to assume that circumstance (1) might come into play. It can be boiled down to asking a simple question which is "is it possible for the bloke in that car to end up in the same place as me in my car/bike at the same time I get there?" If the answer is "no" then the fact that the other road user is perceptually blind is of no consequence, but if the answer is "yes" then perceptual blindness becomes a very big and important consideration.

Here at Nosurprise we have a little 'Rhyming Reminder' that replaces that question with "Cango?-Willgo!" Remember it every time you see a car at a junction waiting to pull out and you'll be surprised how many time circumstances (2) and (3) actually coincide.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)
+7

The Skoda advert is fun, but as most of us are fixating on the road scenario, and the dialogue is leading us to watch the birdie, and the passing girl, the peripheral changes are missed. No-one with driving abilities and watchful of changes in road layout or structure is going to be concerned about different house colours, chimneys appearing/disappearing or apes on rooftops. Clever though it is, attempting to make brain surgeons out of motorists is not going to change the way people drive. Understanding how the brain works out what it sees to what the physical being does as a reaction through neuroscience is too deep for most people. We use computers, we don’t necessarily need to know how to build one. But it does not stop us continuing to use them.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)
+7

Duncan. I understand what you are saying. Basically that we as animals have faulty vision in that we have a perceptual problem that can account for the Smidsys that we and other road users can suffer from.

I ask therefore, if we all have the same developmental problem with our eyesight then please can you explain me why in 99.9999999999999999% recurring of the driving population do not appear to suffer by it and can indeed see a motorcyclist or other vehicle approaching down the road.

I would like to know?

The Skoda Advert is somewhat misleading as well you know that fixation upon one given thing will remove the other visual changes. and that is a problem if someone is following on the vehicle in front, they lose peripheral vision or the need to scan and that can lead to accidents. If they were further away they could scan more activity ahead relative to the possible dangers that might be materialising and act upon it to avoid or mitigate it. Thus by the giving and receiving of space they and others become safer drivers.
Bob Craven Space is Safe Campaigner

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)
+5

We may well be aware of the range of cognitive shortcomings that people suffer from Honor, but the average road user out there simply hasn't got the first clue about them. There's no point in us knowing and understanding stuff if the road users that are having the accidents don't know and understand it as well. If they knew and understood it then there would probably be far fewer accidents which I believe is the whole point of the exercise.

Take the comments that you see posted up on social media against any accident video or report of a fatality. These responses show that the levels of ignorance amongst road users about accidents is practically off the scale, but their ignorance is not their fault as it can only be a result of our failure to help them understand.

Sadly the 'someone's son' campaign was based on a serious misunderstanding of the cognitive neuroscience (memory association pathways or he may be someone's son, but he's not my son). This meant that a great deal of precious resources were entirely wasted for want of a slightly better understanding of the science.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (9)
-4

Duncan,
In the road safety profession we are well aware of Inattentional Blindness and similar cognitive function factors: we have been working with human factors specialists such as Dr Martin Langham et al for many years. The Skoda film is based on the well-known Gorilla in the background and other clips that have been seen in many presentations at our and other conferences over the years.

For example, the Yorkshire and Humberside Region's motorcyclist safety campaign "Somebody's Son" is founded on the inattentional blindness theory: vehicle drivers have been shown to pay more attention and to specifically look for bikers if they have a relative or close friend who is a biker. Therefore the campaign sought to change the "anonymous biker" into "someone's son" and, therefore, someone to relate to instead of an abstract concept.

Perhaps we should do more to inform those who are interested about what we do in detail; how we identify how collisions happen, how analysis, engineering, enforcement and educators work together bringing their various expertise and understanding together with the factual evidence to develop interventions to pre-empt crashes and casualties. That’s difficult to do with ever-reducing staff and increasing workloads but we will try to highlight more of this work through the Newsfeed. You can, of course, find out more through the Knowledge Centre and we also encourage people to submit their intervention work to the Knowledge Centre to share good practice and to learn from others.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)
+9

It can only be a reasonable assumption Bob if they are unaware of the neuroscience. The assumption has been challenged many times in US courts by our colleague Marc Green who is an expert witness in these matters.

Luckily for us there is no functional difference in the brains of Americans and Brits so we can assume that it's only lazy defence teams that haven't brought it to the attention of UK courts. I'm sure that once they do that it will really put the cat amongst the pigeons.

http://www.visualexpert.com/Resources/inattentionalblindness.html

If you fancy finding out for yourself just what having the perception problem is like then the following Skoda advert might be of interest.

https://youtu.be/qpPYdMs97eE
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)
+4

'Driving without due care and attention' covers it, I would think.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (4)
+1

Fortunately what you are referring to Duncan as yet has not been put forward in any defence as a reason and therefore not challenged in law.

I think that warning all other parties that if they don't look out for motorcyclists (and bikes) or don't see them for whatever reason then is a reasonable assumption that they were not looking at all or not looking properly and therefore may have committed an offence for which they may be summoned. At least it may act as a deterrent.
Bob Craven...Space is Safe Campaigner.

Agree (6) | Disagree (7)
-1

The classic SMIDSY explanation may not 'cut the mustard' with officers, but it's perfectly valid as far as perceptual neuroscience is concerned.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (6) | Disagree (3)
+3