OLDER riders shouldn’t borrow their mates’ sports bikes or they could literally go for a spin. That’s one of the standout findings of a two-year study into motorcycle crashes.
Austroads, which represents the state and territory transport bodies, commissioned Neuroscience Research Australia to assess the risk factors influencing crash involvement among motorcyclists.
The study focused on 92 serious injury and 10 fatal crashes in NSW, Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions, providing a mix of rural and urban locations.
More than 330 control riders — defined as those who had ridden through the crash locations without falling off — were also surveyed to compare with the 102 riders in the crashes. Riders were predominantly male with a median age of 37 years.
Away from sports machines, older riders tended to be less represented in crashes but spent longer recovering when they did fall. Austroads notes it is the first time increased severity of outcome with older age has been reported in motorcyclists, though most riders Carsguide deals with know from personal and anecdotal experience we don’t “bounce” as well as we did in our 20s.
Three main crash types were identified. The SMIDSY (Sorry mate I didn’t see you) effect accounted for 36 per cent of the crashes analysed and was predominantly cars not noticing the bike.
Riders failing to negotiate a turn or corner contributed to 35 per cent of all incidents and failing to brake early or hard enough represented 13 per cent of all falls.
The report also identified protective clothing as having a major influence on reducing injury but “there was no significant difference in the number of riders sustaining any injury to the body areas covered by motorcycle-specific or other clothing, except for gloves. Riders who wore gloves that were not designed for motorcycle use were significantly more likely to sustain injury to the hands.”
The study mirrors research by Dr Chris Hurren from Deakin University, who found three out of 10 pairs of reinforced denim jeans passed a European-standard abrasion test, while only two of 10 commonly worn motorbike suits achieved a pass mark.
Other findings from the Austroads study includes:
Riding an unfamiliar motorcycle significantly increased the odds of being in the crash sample.
Riders who rode the crash location daily had seven times the odds of being in the crash sample than the control sample.
A protective effect was observed when the trip purpose was reported as commuting or general transport rather than for recreational purposes.
Examination of helmet performance indicated full face helmets provided better protection than open face helmets, and most impacts to the helmet or head of the rider occurred to the front of the helmet or the face of the rider.
Most crashes occurred within 33km of home.
The Austroads report identified a number of countermeasure themes, including that riders need good quality protective equipment, motorcycle design should minimise rider injury and roadside “furniture” — poles and guard rails — needs to be more forgiving when hit.
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