The Young Pretenders!

Much of any safety campaign is to lay the foundation for the next generation as well as to highlight and to educate the current generation.

Any road safety campaign will have a certain agenda that is either to have a mass appeal (e.g. road users) or to target a specific group (e.g. motorcyclists)…a target audience. Within each campaign there may also be a specific area in which awareness is being raised (e.g. speed in urban areas) or there might be a general awareness (e.g. National Speed Limit Review)

When we talk about a collective and coordinated approach to rider safety and more specifically ‘new or young’ rider safety, then as a safety campaign there has to be an alliance with and an understanding amongst interested parties, groups and organisations that education and raising awareness amongst young and new riders is key.

Many quality training organisations might legitimately argue that they prepare a new rider for road riding and teach the required skills, however the new rider will not necessarily continue to ride in the same manner after the training has ended. Regardless of skills, behaviours and attitudes that may be bestowed to the new rider by any trainer, it really is the responsibility of the newly trained rider to keep practicing what they have been taught.

Many dealerships might legitimately argue that they are in the business of motorcycle or scooter sales and it is not their responsibility to mind the safe riding practices of any rider that walks into the dealership. However, if across the board, as opposed to individual dealers, more emphasis was placed on promoting safer riding practices and matching a motorcycle/moped with a rider’s experience etc then is essence manufacturers and dealerships would be engaged in a closer relationship with their riders. It may be the difference between new riders being involved and not being involved in an accident, or being involved in a near miss which makes a new rider leave motorcycling for ever. This also works on another level, whereby if the riders are less likely to be involved in an accident, then they are more likely to be repeat customers, which make good business sense.

Many family members and friends may worry for their loved ones or may be part of the riding circle. But how many of those are actively engaging with their children or close friends and discussing safer riding practices or wearing protective clothing. Once they witness that the new rider is starting to ignore some of the former lessons, are they then encouraged to redress their behaviour and attitude.

How often have you seen a newly trained or young rider on a moped or scooter riding in a manner that is clearly unsafe. However, consider that the rider may be totally unaware of their actions or it may be that they have fallen into bad habits and are not consciously riding recklessly…or, indeed they just might be.

How often have we seen young or new riders wearing clothes that will do little if anything to protect them if they have an accident or have no concept of the consequences of their actions or the actions of others.

Many of the accidents involving the newly trained and young riders are as a result of inexperience, bad habits and poor control and most notably a low awareness of developing hazards and how to deal with them effectively. It is not so much that they have not been taught how to deal with the situation, it is more that they were not proficient in dealing with the accident avoidance or they have reacted in a manner that was either incorrect or did not go far enough to deal with the situation.

Where campaigns repeatedly struggle is that the safety message is not necessarily reaching its intended audience. It remains a constant challenge to engage with the intended audience and not only preach to the already converted. Hence why it is so important that we all recognise that individuals or individual organisations will always struggle to have a notable impact on rider safety, but a group of organisations and groups of individuals employing varying methods and messages will be much more successful in engaging with the new and young rider and most importantly being able to instil an understanding of what real road and rider safety is about and how they may wish to change their behaviour or continue on their developing pathway.

What is most important is that the message and the delivery of that message is accurate, honest and offers practical solutions and good advice. There is no point is being overly negative about young or new riders as this does little to educate or prepare for the future.

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