5 things motorcycle riders want car drivers to know

1. Lane filtering is now legal in parts of Australia

Though you may find lane filtering–when motorcyclists ride between lanes of slow or stationary traffic at lights or in congestion–infuriating, the fact is, it’s now legal in parts of Australia, including Queensland, New South Wales, and, as of November 2015, Victoria. It’s not surprising, however, that most of you don’t know about the legality of filtering, because there hasn’t been much publicity about it so many people just assume it’s against the law.

Among the reasons that lane filtering has been made legal are that it in fact: 

  • increases rider safety, and
  • eases traffic congestion for all motor vehicles. 

2. SMIDSY doesn’t cut it as an excuse

We hear the SMIDSY acronym–which stands for Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You–far too often from car drivers. For the sake of saving lives, other road users must see riders and should take a longer look before turning or changing lanes. A 'Stop SMIDSY' campaign, featuring road-safety videos, fundraising efforts and its own Facebook page, exists to raise awareness and urge better driver behavior.

3. We are closer than we appear

In case you need a reminder of what it says on many side-view mirrors,“objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. If you’re a driver and you see a motorcycle approaching, don't try to get into the gap ahead. The bike is indeed closer than it seems, and even though bikes are smaller than cars, they can move just as quickly, or often quicker. This is known as the time-to-arrival illusion. If you fall victim to this illusion, you risk cutting the rider off and causing a collision that looks like a SMIDSY (see above).

4. We don’t have a death wish – we have a life wish

We may get a rush from enjoying the freedom of the open road on two wheels, but that doesn’t mean we have a death wish. On the contrary, it’s this rush of adrenaline that makes us feel alive. Do you really think we want to have a crash and risk injury or worse?

5. Old myths and stereotypes die hard

Following on from the death-wish myth above is another enduring misconception: that most riders are just speeding hoons. Recent figures from Victoria’s Road Safety Camera Commissioner actually show a significant drop in the number of detected motorcycle infringements: from 17,730 in 2009/2010 to 12,888 in 2013/2014.

Most riders have a healthy respect for the risks of motorcycle riding, and as a result, the majority follow the rules, drive within the speed limit, wear the required safety gear, and keep bikes well-maintained. Overwhelmingly, riders are a law-abiding bunch. 

Motorcycles and motorcyclists are an ever increasing part of the Australian roadscape. By gaining a better understanding of the rules regulating motorcycle safety and by following careful practices behind the wheel, we should all be able to share our streets and highways peacefully and safely.

Malcolm Cumming is a principal and the office leader in Maurice Blackburns Ringwood office.

RELATED LEGAL SERVICES: Road accident injuries Motorcycle accidents

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Malcolm Cumming

Maurice Blackburn Melbourne

Malcolm Cumming has worked as a litigation lawyer since 1997, joining Maurice Blackburn in 1999 and being appointed to Principal in 2010. He is a Business Development Lawyer based in Melbourne, working closely with the allied health and community sector. In addition to his law degree, Malcolm is a Law Institute of Victoria Personal Injury accredited spe…

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