ACT News


Fatality report sparks push to reduce rider risks

A report into motorcycle deaths and injuries in the ACT has recommended more be done to make guard rails and roadside signs safer for riders, as well as improvements to helmets and better safety education for riders.

An NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust-commissioned report analysed coronial data over a 10-year period that found motorbike riders were 20 times more likely to die on Canberra roads than car occupants.

The figures showed 35 motorcyclists died between 2001 and 2010, 94 per cent of them men.

The report was issued just hours after the death of a 25-year-old male motorcyclist in Manuka, who police believe lost control of a stolen motorbike and hit a traffic light pole.

Overall, about 1200 motorcyclists presented to the Canberra Hospital with injuries in the 10-year period, with an unknown number taken to other hospitals or medical clinics.

Report co-author Mike Bambach, of the University of NSW, said motorbike fatality growth was in line with the increased uptake of two-wheeled transport and likely to continue.


''Participation is constantly going up as more people are taking on biking, especially as fuel prices go up and congestion becomes an issue in the bigger cities,'' he said. ''There's no reason to think that trend will slow.''

The report made recommendations including education and enforcement campaigns targeting risky riding as well as programs targeted at two danger groups, riders aged 16-25 and those aged over 45.

It also recommended improvements to roadside infrastructure, given more than half of fatal crashes in the ACT occurred when the victims struck a fixed object.

Dr Bambach said safety barriers designed to stop riders sliding under and hitting the rigid support poles were not common in Australia.

''There's not a lot of research on the barriers … clearly they would provide a benefit but they're expensive,'' Dr Bambach said.

While police investigations are continuing into Monday's crash, the victim's visor was dislodged and lying on the road afterwards, suggesting potential head injuries. According to the NRMA report, helmets were worn in 89 per cent of fatal crashes in the ACT yet 60 per cent of victims suffered serious head injuries.

Dr Bambach said the figures indicated that while helmets worn in Australia were generally of a high standard, they could be improved.

NRMA-ACT Road Safety Trust chairman Don Aitkin said the Reducing Motorcycle Trauma in the ACT report confirmed ''it's a dangerous world'' for motorcyclists.

''If you're young, you're relying on your reflexes,'' he said. ''If you're old, you're discovering your reflexes are not as good as they once were.''

Professor Aitkin said the trust supported the report's findings and particular emphasis would be put on education for riders.

''If there was a silver bullet in road safety we'd have discovered it ages ago but there isn't,'' Professor Aitkin said. ''All you can do is say 'I'm going point A to point B and I'm going to do it as safely and with as much consideration for everyone else as I can'.''

He said the trust supported the Dorothy Sales Cottages for people with acquired brain injury, some of whom were motorcycle accident victims. The trust also supported a mature-aged riders course, which was run by the Motorcycle Riders Association of the ACT.