How often have we been riding or driving and have seen another rider or driver do something that we perceive as causing an unnecessary risk to other road users or pedestrians or their general driving or riding standards could be greatly improved upon.
I would imagine, for lots of riders and drivers, this may occur most times they venture out onto the roads.
How often have we heard another driver or rider talk about something they’ve seen or done and we perceive their opinions as reckless or how often have we seen riders, either young or old, riding recklessly.
I would image many of us have experienced this and I would imagine that many drivers who do not also ride motorcycles will hold this opinion.
How often have we seen riders riding around without any protective clothing, be that; t shirt and shorts or general everyday clothing that offers very little protection. How often have we seen riders riding without helmets, where there is a legal requirement to do so, or not wearing helmets properly. Even in some areas where there is no legal requirement to wear a helmet, have you ever been tempted to approach the rider and suggest that they wear one?
How many of us would approach a complete stranger and calmly give them our opinion of what they should be wearing or how they should be acting or driving etc.
Of course we are all aware of the times when riders and drivers may react angrily in the face of another road users recklessness and in extreme cases this can manifest itself in, the form of, ‘Road Rage’, but what I am talking about is openly approaching another person and offering to discuss certain aspects in a non confrontational way.
I know, this seems a very daunting proposition and I for one would have to consider this carefully before attempting it as many people might react negatively to your opinions.
If not to a stranger, would any one of us have the same opinions and be willing to share them with a friend or acquaintance. Probably more likely, however, I would imagine the style of deliver of that opinion would probably determine whether these other people would continue be our friends afterwards.
One of the corner stones of the HELI BIKES Motorcycle Safety Initiative, has been to promote open discussion amongst all road users and especially riders on the subject of rider and road safety. Be that a discussion on a one to one basis or within a group or club or from within the local governments and emergency services and businesses. The concept is that all groups and interested parties openly discuss the positive and negative aspects of rider and driver standards and practices so that it becomes a normal everyday discussion.
Many, understandably, do not want to consider or have conversations on the subjects of road safety or causes of accidents. It might be perceived that these conversations is some way will deter people from riding motorcycles or may lead to the sanitising of motorcycle use and destroy the joy and thrill of riding.
However, this is never the intention. Open discussion only acts to inform riders and other drivers of past and present hazards that affect all road users. The information gained by the rider and or driver is added to information already stored. Coupled with personal and recanted experiences, help the rider to avoid situations which may lead to an accident.
It is the responsibility of the rider and or driver to ride and drive, in an appropriate manner, to enable the successful completion of an incident free journey. It is recommended that motorcycle riders adopt safer riding practices and wear suitable protective clothing at all times. However, the individual rider is responsible for their own actions and safety and ultimately it is a question of choice.
Any safety campaign can ‘raise the alarm’ on a particular issue, but the real success of that campaign is whether the message gets through and whether the general public embrace the message and change their behaviour accordingly. Open discussion allows that message and information to be spread more successfully to riders and all road users.
Accurate information allows riders and drivers to make better choices whilst on the road, which ultimately translates into reduced accident statistics. Many restrictions and road laws are created to provide a safer riding and driving experience and in many cases these laws are either perceived as too restrictive or in reality do not improve road safety. In most cases, there is no magic ingredient to solve the issue totally, however the laws are usually implemented as a blanket policy as part of a strategy to tackle the issue. Some would agree with the proposed laws and some would not, however undoubtedly, if we as riders and drivers do not address the rider and road safety discussion ourselves, then it is inevitable that more restrictive laws will be implemented to make the roads more ‘safe’
To coin a phrase: It’s Good To Talk!