This is taken from the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council (MMIC) newsletter.
Traffic Injury Research Foundation Survey Results
By Jo-Anne Farquhar
Canadian motorcyclists are neither ‘more’ nor ‘less’ risky on the roads than other drivers according to a public opinion poll conducted in September 2008 by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF). Riding a motorcycle was perceived as being the least risky of all road behaviours that were surveyed.
The TIRF published its June 2009 issue of Road Safety Monitor (RSM), where it reported the results of the 2008 survey that was designed to investigate motorcycle rider behaviour and public attitudes and perceptions. TIRF conducts this annual public opinion survey in order to take the pulse of the nation on key road safety issues. The Road Safety Monitor 2008 - motorcycle poll was achieved by means of a telephone survey of a random, representative sample of Canadian drivers. On average, the results can be considered accurate within 2.9%, 19 times out of 20.
The TIRF report acknowledges that riding a motorcycle has become more popular in Canada, and is a growing phenomenon. Using MMIC retail sales statistics, TIRF reported that the number of new motorcycle sales has been increasing from year to year in Canada from 52,313 units sold in 2000 to 82,482 units sold in 2007. This shows there is a significant increase in the number of motorcyclists on Canada’s highways. Even with these numbers, Statistics Canada (2008) reports that this still equates to motorcycles representing only 2% of all registered vehicles in Canada.
This could partly explain why motor vehicle drivers fail to see motorcycle riders. Because motorcycles aren’t a constant sight on our roadways, they are less likely to be expected in moving traffic and are more difficult for other drivers to detect. The report also stated that motorcyclists are predisposed to more severe injuries in cases where a vehicle and a motorcycle are approaching each other from opposite directions and one vehicle attempts to turn right or left across the path of the other.
This isn’t new information. Motorcycle riders would agree that riding a motorcycle is more risky than driving a passenger car. But the good news is the survey revealed that the general public is not overly concerned about unsafe motorcycle riders.
This lower rating of concern may be the result of the public's perception that the motorcycle riders' driving behaviour is comparable to that of other road users. For example, 25.5% of Canadian motorcyclists admit to riding well above the speed limit, compared to 24.3% of drivers. This suggests that there is really no difference between riders and drivers given the low margin of error of this study.
In examining what Canadians see as priority road safety issues and how concerned they are about them, the poll revealed that riding a motorcycle was perceived as being the least risky of all road behaviours. In fact, the vast majority of Canadians (94.6%) consider drinking and driving the worst road behaviour Canadians face, followed by running red lights (83.9%), excessive speeding (75.1%), fatigued/drowsy driving, (67.0), non-use of seat belts (66.1%), jaywalking (37.4%) and finally riding a motorcycle (16.6%).
In response to how often respondents saw motorcyclists performing stunts on public roads 83.6% reported that they didn’t see this happening very often. When asked how serious they perceived specific road safety concerns, stunt driving was seventh in rating of concern after drunk drivers (84.1%), drugged drivers (75.8%), running red lights (67.7%), excessive speed (66.2%), distracted drivers (61.7%) and the use of hand held or hands-free cell phone use while driving (60.1%).
The RSM acknowledged that all Canadian provinces have universal helmet laws requiring all riders to wear a helmet. What is encouraging about the survey findings is that only 3.1% of Canadian motorcyclists report riding without their helmet. In fact, among those who were seen riding without wearing a helmet, young riders were seen more often than older riders.
Interesting, but not surprising, data supports the premise that crash risk declines as current riding exposure increases. This is a strong indicator that riders learn with experience, so being an older rider does not necessarily suggest being a more experienced rider.
RSM also reported that 80.4% of Canadian motorcycle riders are male. The majority of these riders are aged 40-49 (24.6%), followed by those aged 50-59 (21.2%), and those aged 30-39 (20.9%). While the overall picture regarding unsafe riding behaviours suggests that riders are not necessarily behaving more or less risky than drivers, there is room for improvement.
We can start with the 25.5% of Canadian motorcyclists who ride well above the speed limit (compared to 24.3% of drivers); 10.5% who weave in and out of traffic; 9% who pass other vehicles when it is not safe to do so; 8.5% who perform stunts on public roads; and 3.1% who ride a motorcycle without wearing a helmet.
The Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) report, sponsored by Transport Canada, the Brewers Association of Canada, the Canadian Motorcycle Association (CMA), the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council (MMIC), and the Canada Safety Council (CSC) can be found at: www.tirf.ca/publications.
Jo-Anne Farquhar is the Director of Communications & Public Affairs for the Motorcycle & Moped Industry Council (MMIC) and the Canadian Off-Highway Vehicle Distributors Council (COHV) and can be reached at 416-491-4449 or toll-free at 877.470.2288 or by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.