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The CEO has responded to widespread frustration about its new motorcycle ad – one which has certainly polarised Bikesales Network readers

The acting Chief Executive Officer of the Victorian Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Tracey Slatter, has responded to criticism of its new motorcycle safety advertisment by a top lawyer who specialises in road accident injuries.

In his posting on news.com.au, John Voyage, a principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, opines that the “message of the ad is that the motorcyclist has effectively killed himself by travelling 8km/h over the speed limit”.

He continued: “The approach from TAC leaves the public with the impression that if you are a car driver and you fail to give way, you’d better hope the motorcycle was speeding – you could get away with murder.

“The TAC was tentatively heading in the enlightened direction with a previous campaign of ‘Put yourself in their shoes’.

“But now the approach has returned to the thinking that the only variable, the only cause of the accident, is the motorcyclist’s speed.

“It ignores the well understood principals of vulnerable road users being harder to see, and that it is harder to estimate the position/distance of smaller objects.  Instead, it returns to a fixation solely on the speed of the motorcycle.

"Despite all this work to protect vulnerable road users and educate others on the roads of the need to factor motorcyclists and bicyclists into their thinking, the senseless mechanics of the current TAC advertisement and the absence of any suggestion of wrongdoing on the part of the driver simply confirms the TAC’s ongoing prejudice against vulnerable road users.”

In her reply, also via a thread on news.com.au, Ms Slattery said that the TAC had worked closely with Victoria Police to understand in what type of crashes riders were losing their lives or being seriously injured, and the major factors involved in those crashes.

“Analysis of crash data from 2008-2010 shows that speed was a contributing factor to 50 percent of motorcyclist fatalities in 60km/h zones and in 70km/h zones,” said Ms Slattery. “Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Peter Bellion, from the Victoria Police Major Crash Investigation Unit, has attended more than 2000 crashes. This type of crash, at metropolitan intersections, is one of the most common types of motorcycle crash he’s seen in that time.

“The TAC’s attitudinal research shows that more than one in four riders self-report speeding for at least half the time that they ride. More than half this group admit to speeding ‘all or most of the time’.

“The TAC made this ad because Victoria Police and TAC data shows us that speeding is a major cause of death and serious injury. In any crash, police will investigate and determine who is at fault. But this ad is not trying to ascribe fault, rather to illustrate that travelling over the speed limit, even by relatively small amounts, can be the difference between being involved in a crash or getting home safely.

“And the unfortunate reality is that if a rider is in a crash, they will usually be worse off, regardless of who is at fault. Yet if a rider ensures they stick to the speed limit, they increase their chance of avoiding a crash, as shown in this reconstruction.

“Our message is, slowing down won’t kill you. What the reconstruction of the crash shows is that slowing down, will give you a better chance of avoiding a crash and getting home safely.

“The TAC is known for emotionally engaging techniques to get people talking about road safety issues. We target different road user groups according to what the road trauma data and research shows. The TAC has used similar approach to target speeding drivers, because whether you are a driver or rider, it is not ok to speed. Our campaigns, such as ‘Reconstruction’ from 2006 and ‘Put Yourself in Their Shoes’ both target car drivers, with the latter focussing on motorists’ need to look out for riders.

“Excessive and inappropriate speed remains a major factor in more than a third of all deaths on Victoria’s roads. This ad reaches out to just one user group, asking them to help keep themselves and all Victorians safe on the roads.”

What do you think? Does the TAC’s response have some merit, or is John Voyage's dissection of the ad spot on?

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Published : Tuesday, 8 May 2012
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