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VMAC Chair speech to SA Safety Forum

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' started by TonyE, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. Presentation by Neil O'Keefe VMAC Chair


    Wednesday February 24, 2010 8.30 am





    Thank you for the invitation to speak at the Forum today – I consider it a privilege to be involved with you at this level – and hopefully I can bring you some insights into some of the progress in Victoria resulting from a much stronger collaboration and working partnership between government agencies, rider groups and industry.

    The following are my personal views and I say also at the outset – I am not here to lecture you on how wonderful the scene is in Victoria – but some of our results are good and something is working – so if I can add anything positive to your mix it will be good – but if I can also pick up some ideas from you for our work ahead it will be a solid outcome from both our points of view.

    I have for some of you copies of a couple of our key documents. The first is the recently published VMAC 2008-2009 Annual Report which gives a good overview of the workings of the Council – the second is the new Victorian 5 year Strategic Action Plan for Powered Two wheelers 2009-2013, launched by Minister Pallas in August 2009, which sets out the blueprint we are all working to as we plan and deliver the agreed critical actions ahead.

    Perhaps for now I will just summarise a few of the key points I made at the launch of the strategy and more recently in my December VMAC Chairman’s note to members – and then leave it to questions later and our panel session this afternoon to flesh out any more details you may wish to ask me about.

    Firstly at the launch of the new Victorian 5 year strategy in August last year I observed that “something is working in Victoria” – the trend line is a consistent reduction in deaths of motorcyclists and pillions of over 20% per annum for the past two years. This is occurring while sales and registrations continue to increase at the same rates as the rest of Australia and despite the fact that the national trend line for deaths and serious injuries continues to increase – albeit at a lesser rate – which is of course good news everywhere. Serious injuries however continue to be an issue.

    There does not seem to be any evidence that it is just the GFC and a fall in traffic numbers – even the most sceptical are beginning to accept that this is more than a statistical blip – there is a trend emerging – and a very positive one at that.

    I think the explanation for this difference starts with the Victorian Government having been prepared to recognise the extent of the problem of motorcycle deaths and injuries within the general road toll, take some political and policy risks – and the results and future possibilities are now becoming clear for all to see.

    The Levy

    The first was the introduction of the safety levy on Victoria ‘s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) premium on motorcycles (compulsory 3rd party insurance in 2002.

    It was unpopular and perhaps even unfair – but it has brought some clear financial focus to the policy issue of rider safety and has served to leverage much greater attention and spending on solutions for rider safety than the small revenue item involved would normally generate.

    It has contributed to delivery of actions under the Victorian Road Safety Strategy for Motorcycles 2002-2007 and a number of motorcycle specific actions under arrive alive Victoria’s road safety strategies.

    The Government agreed to consultation with riders and industry on the spending of the Levy. This has resulted in much stronger collaboration and policy input with the agencies than these groups would normally achieve in government processes – and as the Minister commented at the Launch – a number of successful refinements to long established research, engineering and design practices have emerged that just would not have happened otherwise.

    The projects funded from the Levy are over and above the annual motorcycle safety programs conducted by the TAC, VicRoads and Victoria Police.

    Levy funded projects approved to the end of December 2009 include 134 road improvement projects on popular motorcycle routes and at locations with a history of motorcycle crashes, valued at $21.1 million. In addition, 50 education or research and development projects costing $14.5 million have been approved. Of the 184 approved projects, 144 have been completed.

    The Victorian Minister now wants to see that collaboration expanded even further – and he is correct in looking to the potential of this now.

    Inclusion in general Transport Policy

    The second “risk” I will mention is embodied in the title of the new strategy. It is not just a “safety” strategy – as has been the case in the past – it is a “road safety and transport strategy” and there is a world of difference in the meaning behind this change.

    The Victorian Government has recognised that the number of PTW’s on the roads is growing . It recognises that PTWs offer the potential to contribute to a reduction in traffic congestion, air pollution, fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions . As such it includes actions which will ensure PTWS are agiven appropriate recognition in transport policy and planning in Victoria.

    This is a first for Australia! The Victorian Government is actually saying “OK –yes it is risky to ride motorcycles and scooters – but there are some potential and people want to do it. Therefore instead of discouraging it let’s accept this and turn our focus to maximising the benefits and making it safer in any way we can”.

    Training and Skills Development

    The third risk for government built into the strategy is a major shift in long term government policy around supporting training for riders and drivers in skills and hazard perception.

    It may come as a surprise to many but for decades in Australia there has been a belief among many policy makers that government should not be funding training programs as a road safety measure.

    The rationale behind this is that there is no research to support the view that improved skills will make riders safer. In fact the contrary view has always prevailed – that the more training people receive, the more confident they will become and the more risks they will take.

    Sounds crazy doesn’t it – but that has been the policy brick wall for the 20 years or so that I have been involved in these things.

    Yet every Australia Post mail deliverer who rides a “postie bike” does initial training and regular refresher courses. Why – because Australia Post learned quickly that they could only continue to use the bikes if they could reduce the early accident rates they experienced – which they have done through coaching and training!

    Every emergency services driver or rider – police, ambulances, fire brigade and so on – all receive intensive training and refresher courses.

    Under this new strategy we have won approval for a $2 million spend on a new Levy funded “assisted rides” research and coaching project which will be a first for Australia at this level. With the help of VicRoads, MUARC and Industry training providers such as HART and Stay Upright, 2000 riders will be funded through an “assisted ride” coaching experience aimed at improving skills such as road craft, bike positioning and hazard perception.

    The project will research the outcomes and hopefully prove once and for all that coaching and refresher courses are a key component of improving safety as our roads become more congested and riders need to be better equipped to handle the conditions.

    It is a risk – but I believe it represents a win for common sense – and I commend the agencies – VicRoads, TAC and Victoria Police for being prepared to undertake this trial in Victoria.

    Community policing and education:

    Can I also take this opportunity to tell you a little about a new program we have funded through the Motorcycle Safety Levy via collaboration between rider groups, industry and Victoria Police.

    We call it the Community Policing and Education project and it has involved the successful introduction of the new “coaching” approach to enforcement being trialled by police officers in Victoria. It has been developed from some of the ideas picked up from “Bikesafe London” and the Yarra Ranges “assisted rides” program conducted in the Yarra Valley by the Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

    The funds have been used to pay for a greater Police presence on the roads in areas where motorcycling takes place and a “coaching” as well as some booking” approach to transgressions – where police officers draw the attention of riders and drivers to poor practices that in particular put motorcyclists at risk.

    Of the thousands who have been intercepted for an observed reason relatively few have actually been issued with an offence notice. Most have had a chat about why the program is operating and what we are trying to achieve with it.

    The positive feedback from riders, drivers and the Police officers delivering the program has been way beyond our expectations. We believe it will be a key contributor to continuing progress under the strategy. We are also getting back terrific “real time” results – for instance of hundreds of interceptions there has been (I think) only 1 rider found to have exceeded the alcohol limit – great news. We also know now that the incidence of unregistered bikes and unlicensed riders is higher than we would like – and that will lead to more work on tackling these problems.

    A significant emphasis though is on drivers intercepted for poor practices which put motorcyclists at risk so the focus is certainly on driver habits as much as motorcycle riders.

    You might not be aware but CASAR, the Centre for Automotive Safety Research in South Australia is actually doing a detailed evaluation of the program for VicRoads. That evaluation is also Levy funded.

    Future priorities for VMAC in Victoria

    In many ways the December meeting wound up a strong year of progress for VMAC. I think we are now “turning the page” as we move into a new decade.

    For those who have been involved in the two wheeler policy debate for a long time I think it well worth taking some satisfaction at the advances which have been made in the past two years.

    Longstanding pressure on the need for better research, LAMS, recognition of off-road needs, incorporating PTW’s into official transport policy, improved rider training and greater focus on driver attitudes have all now been recognised and accepted into the policy agenda.

    And as I said earlier - our most important statistic - riders and pillion fatalities in Victoria continues to trend down. Serious injuries, however, continue to be a major challenge.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t still have a very big job to do on the safety front. We know there is a distressing personal experience behind every one of the crashes. We need to do much more work to understand each one in order to develop stronger policy responses.

    Most VMAC members would agree that the whole package of measures is working – with black spot treatments as the measurable stand out. The evaluation at 85 sites treated since the program commenced found a 24% reduction in motorcycle casualty crashes. In real terms, this means that 24 motorcycle casualty crashes are prevented each year on Victoria’s highest risk roads for motorcyclists. We also agree we are entering a new zone where most of the gains will come from working with riders and drivers on skills, attitudes and hazard perception.

    More focus will shift to programs such as “assisted rides”, community education and policing, improved preparation and licensing along with strong use of a variety of media and stronger collaboration with dealerships to reach riders and drivers with key safety messages.

    The PTW Transport policy agenda

    I will finish now with a little more about the broadening the Strategic Action Plan to specifically incorporate “transport” policy. There is no point government positioning itself as wanting to head off our cities becoming mini “LA’s” as car numbers increase and freeways continue to be built. If Melbourne is to be more like a Paris or a Rome – you need to understand it is not just about public transport and bike paths.

    Paris and Rome facilitate the use of bikes and scooters big time - and we must also. Victoria has now adopted motorcycles and scooters as a considered component of the state transport strategy. This is an exciting breakthrough for riders and industry advocates. Work will now begin on measures which put that commitment into effect in the years ahead.

    The developmental work will be guided by planners and policy makers in VicRoads, Victoria Police, Department of Transport and TAC. There are many examples of changes in thinking which will come about. “Park and ride” policy, road and intersection engineering, provision for parking, environmental managament and road space – just a few of the likely areas of focus.

    VMAC will be looking for input and ideas from a wide range of riders, industry leaders, planners and researchers active in the field. It is a long term approach – and we are keen to do our bit to make sure it happens.

    Thank you once again

    That is enough for now from me – I hope this gives you some good insights and thank you once again for inviting me to the Forum.
  2. Is it just me? I can’t see anything in the speech about the disgraceful and inappropriate reduction in speed limits.

    Get rid of the VMAC thing and refund the money collected from this stupid levy.
  3. You really didn't read the whole thing did you? You just hate the levy don't you?

    Can't see the HUGE steps that VMAC have made for you can you?

    FFS - read it again and THINK about what was said. THINK - don't just HATE the levy.
  4. For the first time ever I feel like (my part of) the levy is being put to good use.
    Others may feel differently but it's a win in my book.
  5. This bit however they can shove up their arses.
  6. So you'd rather be booked than coached...
  7. Thank god - there is someone who can actually read and understand what Neil actually said. Well done Chef=D>=D>
  8. You can't honestly say you buy into that malarky do you? Seriously?

    I've been coached, it's a crock. It was actually no more than an excuse to pull riders over just for the hell of it.

    They make it sound as though if there is a little indiscretion the po-po have the option of either a) coaching or b) booking. What they fail to disclose is they are actually do both (a) and (b).

    So you'll have to guess again Tony.

    I'll give you a hint though, I do not agree with them using my levy to police me. They can f.uck off.
  9. Chef, I hear where you are coming from, but must respectfully disagree.
    The ancedotal evidence I hear is that booking rates are down.
    And in my job I talk to / correspond with a LOT of riders.
    I know we all think we can ride, and yes I know some of you can, and well!
    But here we have a professionaly trained expert rider giving out advice.
    If you get talking (really talking) to some of these guys you will find that they KNOW bikes. Most ride off duty, a lot race or compete at top levels in MotoX and the like.
    And yes I agree there are some twats in the job too.
    There are more than a few twats here too though.....

    Yes they are pulling bikes over, true. But honestly, if it means they are getting DUI and unregistered bikes off the road, I say go for it.
  10. Well said Tramp.=D>=D>=D>

    Too many of us have negative feelings about the Police. We forget that sometimes they are just humble riders like us and we get overawed by the Blue Uniform.

    Getting this program in was a Big Step for VMAC and they had to argue strongly to get it in place. It was taken from the very successful UK model.

    Guys - sometimes the cops are actually our friends - not our enemies. And especially bike cops - they are totally on our side - they detest Unriders as much as we do and they want to pass on their knowledge - just like we do. They are riders who are as "rider image sensitive" as us - they know how we feel - because they are riders too......

    If they aren't booking you - FFS why complain? If they are pointing out a bad habit you are exhibiting - hey - maybe its time you had a look at that aspect of your riding style.
  11. Actually yes - they do have the discretion. Their Key performance Indicators for this project are now on the number of interceptions - not bookings.

    Proof of this is the number of bookings at the previous superbikes weekend - I don't have the figures for this one - 19 riders were booked at the Island over the whole weekend. As opposed to probably 10 times that number or riders booked at previous weekends.
  12. OK guys i get your point, but I'm yet to be convinced by your examples, they can still be viewed two ways.

    I'll give a couple of examples of my recent experiences so you can see where I'm coming from. Let me just begin by saying I'm no angel, and I'd appreciate it if this wasn't turned into a pissing competition.

    The first story i'll relate was at the bottom the Blackspur, at the lookout where they pull over every rider that goes past. Needless to say we got pulled in for license and reg. No worries it's all part of the deal nowadays.

    They did have their new laser guided missile detector and were using that, but you could see them from a mile away. However they did mention that they had pinged a few riders for crossing the double lines on the same stretch. They all copped fines, and no doubt a talking to as well. Does that still come under rider education?

    Anyway there were three of us there. All wearing full gear, all greying or going bald, all with tyres that are scrubbed in to the edges. At the same time there were a group of youngsters on rockets who were all wearing kevlar pants, some with only jeans, jackets, some with no gloves, and some with runners on.

    I wasn't displaying my reg so i was told i could be fined. When asked why i wasn't i told him because i hadn't remembered to put it on from the last trackday. No biggy, so no fine. The front tyre was shagged but that was also overlooked and never mentioned.

    So far so good, until the edumacating started....."take it easy out there, don't pass on double lines, can't cross a single line, blah blah", yeah whatever. I didn't just come down in the last shower, my leathers are nearly as old as i am, i don't even know what colour they're supposed to be anymore.

    Then the ****er tells us we only have seven litres of blood in our body, WTF??? He lost me right there. Go and talk to the squids about blood champ. Then he points to my mates bike and asks me if he ever lets me ride it? Does he trust me enough? Honestly, who the hell does he think he's talking to? I was prepare to humour him right up until that point.

    The cops were cagers which became clearly evident the more they talked. I don't know if they've been put through 'the program', but they have a lot to learn about PR with riders. If that's my levy being used, i want it back.

    The second was a completely different experience. I got pinged getting excited with the throttle, and it was a fair cop so i was going to wear it. The officer was fully kitted up to ream me, but when i took my helmet off his body language completely changed.

    I asked him if he got me catching up to a mate, he told me the situation so i asked him if he was going to do me any favours. He got me just shy of hooning, but definitely had me at speeding, but he dropped it down to not paying attention.

    How's this, he told me he wasn't interested in taking my bike off me, they were more interested in pinging tourists for crossing the lines cos they are ones taking us out. I could of dead set kissed him if i didn't think he'd shoot me for it. It took him less time than in the other story, he gave me the fine which i gladly accepted, told me to take it easy and sent me on my way. Then he did a U-ee and left me to it. Now that's old school.

    So in the first instance i didn't get a fine but came away feeling shitty, and in the second instance i copped a fine and felt pretty cheery all things considered.

    I haven't been pulled over many times since the new approach has started, so I've only got a couple of examples to go on. But if that's it then it needs some more work.

    If the levy is being used to educate members to go out into the field and understand us then good, although it appears that doesn't mean all members of the force. But if it's being used to fund operations of well intentioned but ignorant police then bad. I'm not interested.

    As i understand it Tony, they had 10 times as many coppers down there compared to previous years, so no wonder. They turned up in force and made their presence felt to the point of overshadowing the reason everybody was there in the first place. They can pat themselves on the back all they want, but I couldn't care less if they didn't book anybody if that's the price to be paid.
  13. There's been about 100 non-riding TMU cops go through the HART program. You may have been unlucky enough to get one of the ones who hadn't done it.

    There's nothing worse than a safety lecture from someone who doesn't know what it's all about. I was booked once for 100 in an 80 zone and got a lecture about how dangerous that speed was. A little later that zone was upped to 100 (it was around near the Yallourn Open Cut on Haunted Hills Road).

    As for the Supers, they would have had the extra bike cops down there as part of that programme. The areas they concentrated on for bikes were not giving way, licence, rego and rbt. For cars it was behaviours that could endanger riders - they booked a lot more car drivers than riders.

    The second bloke sounds like he's actually done the training (was he a bike cop?)

    So far the main motorcycle offences they've found in the programme are unlicensed and unregistered (usually the same person). As Neil says, one rider over .05 is actually pretty significant.

    Part of this programme is actually about keeping statistics and getting long term information that can be analysed. I believe what may emerge is that riders are generally more law-abiding about major things than most road users. Not many riders run red lights, go through stop signs, fail to give way or are over .05. Certainly I don't know of any off-hand who get caught on the phone or texting :)

    edited: The figures coming out of this have the potential to reverse a lot of the negative attitudes that have developed because of myths about rider behaviour.
  14. Tony, when that copper at the Vicroads forum recently spouted the lines that they'll be "chatting" with riders more often, and making it sound like that we should be welcoming it, I nearly choked on my cheese and cracker.

    All it means is that they are now using that as an excuse to pull you over, ream you via licence, rego and roadworthy checks, handing you a brochure, presumably paid for by us, and then booking you when an offence is seen to be committed.

    Remember, the copper said that they'll still be booking people. You won't be getting off anything.

    And yeah, I know that they don't need an excuse to pull you over, not like cops apprehending real crooks who do need a reasonable excuse. All this means is that they want us to feel good about being detained for no good reason other than they can do so.

    And people are buying this. That is what I find most amazing.
  15. Because, if I'm minding my own business, riding safely and within the law (the two can be mutually exclusive at times), then why should they need to pull me over, firstly to scare the crap out of me when suddenly they appear from the shrubbery waving me down, or lights and sirens suddenly erupt behind me and secondly to detain me involuntarily?

    If they want to check my rego, they can do so via radio while still moving. It takes a minute or so to look it up. It will also show the status of the licence holder linked to the rego.

    Which reminds me. Better put my new sticker in its holder in case the bike explodes on me tomorrow morning on my way to work.

    Last time a copper pulled me over for "a chat" he saw the just-out-of-date sticker. I copped a $50 (or whatever it was) fine for that indiscretion.

    Sorry, John, Tony, et al, but I find this whole thing a bit much to swallow.
  16. No Martin, what you are giving is good feedback that we can pass on to the people who need to hear about it.

    Maybe the cops aren't the ones that should be given the job. But, IMHO someone does need to do it - and identifying who and how is one avenue that MRA is pursuing right now.
  17. =D>

    Thankyou, they are precisely the words i couldn't find. I'm a bit distracted today...

  18. I have read the speech many times over and cannot see anything about the woeful speed limit reductions in Victoria. Take the Reefton Spur for example. Along comes VicRoads and erects a multitude of motorcycle friendly barriers. After installation they reduce the speed limit from 100kph to 80kph. Now many decent law abiding motorcyclists will no longer ride this road for fear of losing their licences and not being able to enjoy riding at the slow speed. All of a sudden all this back patting begins on what a great job everyone has done and how the levy is justified. Great job! All you can hear now are the crickets.

    All funded by our money via a stupid motorcycle levy. You know it’s a bad levy when it’s not itemised on the registration renewal invoice. It is hidden. Why?

    All deaths on Victorian roads as tragic as they are amount to less than point zero one percent (.01). Where is the issue in this? Why is all this money being wasted? What can possibly be achieved? Point zero zero one percent (.001)?

    I did not see any of this in the speech.

    Personally I cannot see any major issues with motorcyclists and have yet to see an argument to justify all the over management of the so called “issues”. In fact most motorcyclists work very hard at their jobs trying to earn a decent living and they pay more than their fair share in taxes. At the end of the working week they look forward to having a bit of a release and some hard earned fun. There is nothing wrong with that!

    If anything motorcyclists should be recognised and complimented for the enormous input into the Victorian economy by the purchase of motorcycles, maintenance, parts, fuel, riding gear, licensing, registration, insurance and support for country towns via the purchase of food, goods and services and for putting many of them on the tourist map.

    Motorcycle numbers are growing at a record rate and their share of the electorate is much larger. It can be said that motorcyclists are now in a position of power with the ability to bring about change that better suits their needs.

    I would say the greatest need is fun and currently I am unable to enjoy this great recreational activity at these ridiculously low and stupid speed limits.