This is a guest blog post from Ria Brisland. Ria has been campaigning since 2018, for better education for all road users on the vulnerabilities faced by motorcyclists.
This is her story.
On Friday 24 April 2015, I received a phone call that changed my life forever.
It was the day I learned my eldest son, Nick, had been killed in a motorcycle accident.
When something as tragic as this happens, the agony of it is suffocating.
Nothing makes sense anymore.
Eventually I had to make a choice to try to carry on with my life as best as I could.
I am still learning how to do this.
No parent should ever have to endure the pain of losing their child.
The way in which my son was killed could have been avoided.
And that fact will haunt me forever.
Educating people about the dangers faced by vulnerable road users
Almost 3 years later in February 2018 after much deliberation in how to stop this happening to another rider on the road, I decided to start a petition to the Transport Secretary and the DVSA with hope of initially try to change the theory test.
My aim was, and still is, to educate people, especially young people in their key stages of learning, in why vulnerable road users behave differently on the road and how to spot them.
This is to help breed a new generation of drivers.
Statistically most bike fatalities are because the driver doesn’t actually see the rider on the road.
If we all take responsibility not just for ourselves but for keeping each other safe this will result in fewer deaths.
Petitioning for safer roads
After just a few short weeks the petition for safer roads through change.org grew to a phenomenal size.
It gained thousands and thousands of signatures daily.
I remember watching it grow and being in awe of how far and wide it had spread, thinking, how incredible it was that people felt as passionate about what I was trying to achieve as I did.
65,000 people signed it in one day alone.
I received emails daily from people who had lost their loved ones in a similar way to the way I lost my son.
It was then I knew I had started something quite special and together we were going to make a difference.
Just a few short weeks into the Petition’s success after various radio, television interviews and some help from my local MP Royston Smith I received an email from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.
Meeting with DVSA
I was invited to meet with chief driving examiner Mark Winn and his team.
I went to visit the DVSA at one of their headquarters in Cardington in July 2018.
I felt completely welcomed by Mark and his team.
I was congratulated for standing up and making a difference, with kind words of condolence for myself and my family.
We sat down for a long time thrashing out ideas of how to make this happen.
I left that day feeling like my ideas had been valued and listened to with a plan for the future to visit them again in Nottingham and see the finished result.
In February 2019 I met with the DVSA again.
I was so pleased and amazed with the finished result.
Breaking the stigma
I feel very fortunate, in a very unfortunate situation, that I was taken seriously and I’m proud to be working closely with the DVSA for the foreseeable future coming up with new ideas of how to keep everyone safe.
I want to break the stigma against bikers and remind people it’s the human behind the engine that makes the difference.
We all have a duty to each other on the road!
Regardless of age, the driver in front of you is somebody’s child.
Since Ria met with us, we’ve created several new hazard perception clips which include motorcycle riders. These will be used in our learning materials and on social media.
Can you spot the rider? Could your pupils?
Tips for your pupils
As ADIs your experience and knowledge of the road will be vast, but your pupils won’t be.
Here are some good tips to teach your pupils, to help them remember to always look out for vulnerable road users like motorcyclists.
When turning - look, look and look again
A motorcyclist may not be immediately obvious at a junction. They could be behind the oncoming car you are about to turn in front of and they may be attempting to overtake that car. It is so important to always look and look again, to make sure it is clear to turn.
Always check your blind spots
Motorcyclists can be hard to see especially in blind spots created by pillars or when looking into the sun. Always think about your blind spot and check for motorbikes when you’re changing lanes or at a roundabout, as a motorcyclist could be in the space you are trying to move into, or they could be approaching that area at speed.
Keep a safe distance
Make sure that you keep a safe distance between yourself and any motorcyclists. Driving too close can intimidate less experienced motorcyclists and increase the likelihood of an accident.
Double check on manoeuvres
Remember that motorcyclists could be on either side of you. Whether you’re turning left or right, make sure to double check all around your car for any motorcyclists that could be nearby. Also be aware that parked cars, or larger cars and lorries, could be blocking your view of a motorcyclist.
Always be aware
Keep thinking about motorcyclists once you’ve parked. Make sure you check for them before you open your car doors, and make sure that your passengers do the same. When you drive off, look specifically for motorbikes as they can accelerate faster than cars.
Ria’s message for everyone is clear, we all have a duty of care and responsibility to everyone on the road. Your actions could massively affect someone else’s life so easily.
Comment by Peter Glenn. posted on
The Government already knows the major cause of KSI " Failing to take effective observations , particular at junctions ". This figure is 30%. Yet they keep saying that speed is the main cause it is only 5%.
I know where I would place most of my resources and effort, there must be a reason why minsters do not see the facts and act.
Comment by David Campleman posted on
Amen to that always do make sure my pupils look for motorcyclists, and cyclists when turning and at junctions and when stationary for them filtering through traffic sometimes people are just looking for other cars, etc and not looking hard enough for them on 2 wheels .
Comment by David bratt posted on
Yes that great.....but we need to at cbt it's 29 years old, I've been doing this job 26 years come October and since das came out in 1996 what new tools are you coming up with. David Bratt
Comment by Mrs R Allford posted on
I am of course very sad whoever has been killed on the road. My own son was killed in Corfu on a motorcycle. I have been a driving instructor for over 40 years and we always seem to get the blame, I past my cycling proficiency test at 12 which put me in good stead for road sense. I see cyclists on the pavement go through red lights cycle across crossings they clearly do not know the rules or don’t care, good heavens I see cars drive down the pavement because they can’t be bothered to wait at the lights outside my house every day . It’s getting worse not better. I think the Highway Code should be taught all through school from an early age , and an exam taken on it as we are all road users, and at the end of the day most other exams aren’t going to kill you
Comment by Kezza posted on
I think encouraging driving school instructors (car/motorcycle/hgv) to better educate their students on motorcyclists and cyclists. My driving instructor taught me 'BOB' and 'BOM'. BOB = left side, Boy On Bike, BOM = right side, Boy On Motorbike. Still today I think about what I was taught some 20 years ago.
Comment by Rita Allford posted on
Also my comment on the clip with the car and motorcycle, if they had been in the middle of their side of road it would have shown three lights and as far as I know normal vehicles only have two