Motorcyclists push safety limits - study taken from the queensland university of technology website: http://www.news.qut.edu.au/cgi-bin/WebObjects/News.woa/wa/goNewsPage?newsEventID=8549 Motorcyclists push safety limits - study Motorcycle riders feel a pressure to "push their limits" in a way most car drivers don't, a Queensland University of Technology road safety study has found. Health masters researcher Deborah Tunnicliff said while some motorcyclists pushed their limits in a safe, considered, manner, unsafe behaviour sometimes resulted from perceived social pressure to ride well, combined with a propensity to thrill seek. Ms Tunnicliff said motorcycle riders reported being able to ride skilfully was essential to being safe, but often suggested they would push themselves to the limits of their ability in an attempt to improve their skill. The researcher surveyed more than 270 motorcycle riders about their perceptions of safety, in order to make sense of why bike riders still die at "horrific" rates while the general road toll declines. "People have an image of motorcyclists as being quite irresponsible but most riders take safety very seriously," she said. "A very large proportion of motorcycle crashes result from errors made by car drivers and this fact is too often ignored." Ms Tunnicliff said she found the concept of being safe a very broad one as almost every rider thought they were safe. "What they really seem to mean is that they 'weigh up the risks' before engaging in potentially risky behaviours," she said. She said riders could engage in behaviour that might be considered risky, while being the safer option at a particular time. "For example, although lane splitting can be a dangerous practice, there are some instances where a motorcyclist may consider this the safest thing to do," she said. "If you are wearing helmet, leathers and gloves in the summer heat in a traffic jam, falling off your bike from dehydration and heatstroke may be a greater risk than riding slowly between the stopped cars or on the shoulder." Ms Tunnicliff said all study participants agreed three things were essential to being safe on the road: being a skilful handler of the machine, retaining a high degree of concentration, and staying within your limits. The researcher said she was concerned many motorcyclists did not consider fatigue as an impairment, especially as the physiological response to riding a motorcycle could mask symptoms of fatigue. She said her research was now being further developed in order to make recommendations for rider training. "If you go to rider training and you get greater riding confidence, this can result in a greater intention to push the limits," she said. "We need new riders to be confident but not overly confident... rider training will need to look at that." Ms Tunnicliff undertook her research at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland at QUT, and is now working for the CRC for Railway Engineering and Technology based at Central Queensland University. Media contacts: Deborah Tunnicliff - (07) 5438 7562 or 0404 965 404. Carmen Myler/Toni Chambers - (07) 3864 1150.