Safer doesn’t always mean slower

January 14th, 2011

New research has found that safer doesn’t always mean slower when it comes to motorcyclists.

The study, at the University’s Centre for Motorcycle Ergonomics & Rider Human Factors, found that formal advanced training can boost safety.

The preliminary findings have been published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), which funded the research.

As of June 2010, 21 per cent of UK road fatalities were riders, despite motorbikes making up less than four per cent of vehicles. Car drivers typically cause two out of the three most common motorcycle accidents in the UK, but many are caused by riders themselves.

Researchers investigated attitudes, behaviours and skills to establish whether those with advanced training ride differently to novices or experienced riders without advanced training.

The simulator uses a Triumph Daytona 675 motorcycle mounted on a custom rig designed and built at the University. The ‘STI-SIM Drive’ simulation software put riders through identical scenarios to test hazard perception and behaviour.

Researchers found that experience alone does not make riders safer. Advanced riders used better road positioning to anticipate and respond to hazards, kept to speed limits, and made better progress through bends than riders without formal advanced training.

Dr Alex Stedmon, from the Human Factors research group, said: “This is one of the most in-depth studies of its kind. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for us in the Faculty of Engineering to work alongside colleagues in the School of Psychology focusing on high-impact research. It’s demonstrated clear differences between rider groups and potential benefits to advanced training above and beyond rider experience and basic training.

“While experience seems to help develop rider skills to an extent, advanced training appears to develop deeper levels of awareness, perception and responsibility. It also appears to make riders better urban riders and quicker, smoother and safer riders in rural settings.”

Dr David Crundall, from the School of Psychology, added: “This is real cutting-edge research and the hazard perception results, in particular, have shown that advanced riders were quicker to identify hazards and had a greater awareness on their responsibility to themselves and other road-users.”

Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research, said: “We were pleased to learn that advanced riders trained by us adopted the safest road position to deal with hazards while still managing to achieve the quickest time through bends. This research proves that the IAM’s advanced system of motorcycle training delivers real and sustainable benefits.”

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