Published on Motorbike Writer – 12th October 2021

Motorcyclists want drivers to look, use their mirrors, check blind spots and ‘get off the phone’, according to a Motorcycle Council of NSW survey of more than 500 riders.

The survey was conducted last month in preparation for the current Motorcycle Awareness Month to gain an insight into how to get the message across to drivers to #lookoutformotorcycles.

It also found that half of  NSW motorcyclists have experienced a near-miss in the past three months.

The survey was designed to capture motorcyclists experience of drivers’ behaviour that has affected their safety and what can be done to improve their safety on the road.  

While there are numerous statistics and studies completed about motorcycle crashes, there is little information about the number and effect of near misses which can easily turn into a crash.

The survey used three key areas to question motorcyclists:

  • About their personal riding experience
  • Details about their last two near misses
  • How drivers’ behaviour could be improved to reduce near misses.

Respondents riding experience

Most (77%) respondents had over 10 years’ experience riding, with many riding for weekend recreation (86%), 63% enjoying regional NSW riding and 29% using their motorcycle to commute.

Driving mistakes happen often with  37% of riders correcting their riding or riding defensively to protect themselves from drivers’ mistakes every time they ride, while 36% correct their riding one in five rides.  

This shows we need to continue to get the message out to drivers to be extra diligent around motorcycles.  

Details about their last two near misses

93% of respondents have had a near miss, and 58% of them were shaken by the experience.

An overwhelming 52% had a near miss in the past three months.  

The majority occurred in metropolitan areas and 22% occurred on rural roads.

When did near misses occur?

Most (62%) of the near misses happened during the weekday.  With 55% occurred between the hours of 10-3pm, with 24% between 3pm to 7pm and 18% between the morning peak hour times.

Where did near misses occur?

A third occur on suburban roads, 19% at intersection without traffic lights, 20% on main roads/highways and 16% on rural roads.

Where there other factors contributing to near misses?

Excessive speed doesn’t seem to be the problem in motorcycle near misses with 46% riding less than 50km/h and 36% between 50-80km/h.

The majority of near misses were with cars (48%) and 40% SUV vehicles.

According to the rider, 88% of the drivers in a near miss were disobeying the road rules.

Their experience of the near miss could have been avoided had the driver followed the road rules (51%), 49% said for the driver to look in their mirrors, 23% said to slow down, and finally, 14% to not use their mobiles while driving.

How can drivers’ behaviour be improved to reduce motorcycle near misses?

The survey asked motorcyclists what the driver can do to avoid future near misses with the motorcycle.  

There was a strong recurring message coming from all riders.  Mentions of ‘look’ (143), ‘mirror’ (92), ‘phone’ (47), and ‘blind spots’ (36) in the comments of riders on how drivers can change their driving behaviour to make it safer for motorcycles.

Key survey outcomes

  • Motorcycle near misses with drivers occur too often and aren’t always a result of traffic and road conditions.   
  • Near misses are happening primarily with cars, on suburban roads, outside of peak hour on weekdays.  Mostly, speed isn’t an issue, however the driver was at fault. 
  • Rider experience is key for motorcyclists to avoid near misses.
  • Drivers need to always be diligent and look out for motorcycles.

Mark from Orange suggests drivers: “Don’t even look at your phone. Stay on your own side of the road especially on blind corners and crests. Look twice.” 

“Use your mirrors. Don’t use mobile phones and don’t think just because your vehicle is bigger you have the right of way!” says Trudy from Cessnock.

Windsor motorcyclist Cameron says: “Check your mirrors, turn your head, make sure there is no one beside you when changing lanes. Give more room when following and stop tailgating please” 

What would be your message to drivers to keep motorcyclists safe on our roads?