02/04/2013 12:06:00

Motorcyclists and bikes made up 35% of the total number of people killed or seriously injured (KSIs) on Kent and Medway’s roads between 2009 and 2011.

Latest figures from Kent County Council and Medway Council reveal that between 2009 and 2011, 489 motorcyclists and 166 cyclists were killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads.

Now Medway Council and Kent County Council are launching a new road safety campaign, in partnership with Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership, to urge drivers to be more aware of motorcyclists and pedal cyclists, especially encouraging drivers to look out for these relatively small road users.

Poster boards are going up at all 77 fixed roadside safety camera sites across Kent and Medway this week reminding drivers to THINK BIKE

Medway Council’s Principal Road Safety Officer, Su Ormes, says: “British motorcyclists and cyclists commonly refer to collisions in which a car driver fails to perceive a two-wheel user as a SMIDSY – short for ‘Sorry mate, I didn’t see you’.

“There has been a lot of research into why motorcycles and bicycles often appear to be invisible to drivers. One theory is ‘inattentional blindness’. Drivers see at a subconscious level but because motorbikes and cycles are smaller, and therefore not perceived as a threat, they don’t register in the brain until it’s too late.

“Another theory is based on a principle called ‘motion camouflage’, suggesting bikes blend into the background and seem almost invisible to motorists as they drive directly towards them. Animals and insects use the same technique when hunting. Motorcycles are particularly susceptible to motion camouflage because they are much smaller than a car or lorry to an observer.”

The UK Department for Transport estimates that SMIDSY incidents account for about 25% of all motorcycle crashes. Nationally, in 2010, around 74% of two-wheel KSIs occurred in collisions involving another vehicle, usually a car, with around 66% of these happening at junctions*.

“Quite often, it’s a case of drivers looking but just not seeing,” says Steve Horton, Road Safety Team Leader for Kent County Council. “So this campaign aims to remind motorists to think about the smaller more vulnerable road users and take extra time to look out for them, especially when pulling out at junctions.

“At the same time, we want to encourage cycle and motorcycle users to make themselves more visible by wearing suitable clothing, using headlights even in the daytime and thinking about their positioning while riding. Just because you can see a car approaching, it doesn’t mean that the car driver can see you.”

The campaign is being supported by The National Grid. Damian Heylen, Business Support Manager at Grain LNG, says: “Safety is very important in all we do at National Grid so we’re very pleased to support this campaign. As road users it’s vital that we all remember to watch out for each to other and to think bike.”

Further advice is available at http://think.direct.gov.uk/motorcycles.html

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