Letter of the Week – from Dan Carter, California

The No Surprise: No Accident rider safety initiative has been getting some interesting mail, by no means restricted to the UK either. Here’s a mail received a couple of days ago from Dan Carter of San Luis Obispo, California, USA. Dan says:

“I came across your website via discussion in a US forum here: ttp://www.msgroup.org/forums/mtt/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=15141

“Your theme–no surprise, no accident–resonates with me because my own view of crashes is the same: Most occur when an ordinary situation takes an unexpected turn. But why does the rider fail to anticipate it? Crashes are a relatively common occurrence, so we’re not talking about a meteor falling from the sky. Rather, the trigger is usually something that motorists are familiar with–a bend tightens, a driver fails to yield right of way, etc. Continue reading

No Surprise features on Idaho STAR newsroom

We’ve been spotted, by the Idaho STAR Program, who wrote on Monday, December 01, 2014:

“Now that December is here, many of us consider the riding season to be essentially over. There may be a few more rides to be had sunny winter days, but for the most part, thoughts turn to ‘next season.’ This month, to get ourselves thinking about how we can make next season a safe one, I’d like to share a blog post from the UK. These folks are taking a unique and (in my opinion) very promising approach to the prevention of motorcycle crashes. If you find the blog post interesting, check out the rest of their site at nosurprise.org.uk.”

The Idaho STAR Motorcycle Safety Program was created in 1994 and began rider training in 1995. STAR is an Idaho Division of Professional-Technical Education program and is accredited by the National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA).


Useful Websites – Motorcycle Guidelines from IHE

The Institute of Highway Engineers Motorcycling guidelines are an updated version of a set of award-winning guidelines for highways engineers and road safety professionals originally produced in 2005 and aimed at encouraging greater awareness of the needs of powered two-wheelers and effective interventions to improve safety.

The most recent update reflects changes in policy and advances in technology and knowledge.

The Blinding Truth? Or a failure to perceive the real problem?

All the way back on CBT, riders are taught to ‘see and be seen’; to try to put themselves in positions where other drivers have a line of sight with them in it, and to find position where they open up lines of sight into blind areas. That’s not a concept unique to post-test training.

As part of that explanation, new riders are also taught to look for eye contact. It might be a faulty concept (as the ‘Science of Being Seen’ presentation I deliver demonstrates – “he was looking right at me and still pulled out”) but if we can’t see the driver’s eyes then we’re not in his line of vision, and it doesn’t matter whether that’s because he’s looking the other way, because there are pedestrians or a post box on the pavement, or the car’s lined up with the door pillar in the way of his view of the bike. Continue reading

The failure of the DVSA’s hazard perception test to create perceptive drivers

As reported some considerable time ago, the DVSA have been working on replacing the filmed video clips for the hazard perception element of the theory test with computer generated imagery (CGI). It’s taken a while, but the latest news from the agency is that the hazard perception part of the driving theory test is set to be updated with from early next year.

The current filmed video clips are used to test candidates’ reactions to developing hazards on the road, but the DVSA acknowledge that whilst “the scenarios in these clips are still relevant… the image quality isn’t as clear or defined as modern digital technology allows. Continue reading

Addition to the reading list

Thanks to Malc for reminding me of this particular paper. It’s getting on a little in years now but still asks and attempts to answer some important question.


The study attempts to prove that the accident liability of drivers is not dependent on the type of motor vehicle used and that for the same age and experience the accident levels of twmv riders and car drivers are not very different.Although official statistics on accidents and casualties appear to show that motorcycling is many times more dangerous than car driving, it is believed that these figures overstate the situation. The study examines official and other data in order to judge the matter fairly and makes proposals for future policies that could be followed by both trade and users of twmvs. It is suggested that as there are wide variations of driving behaviour and competance amongst both motorcyclists and car drivers, such variations should be taken into account before conclusions are made. Continue reading

Addition to the reading list

Martin Langham’s PhD thesis offers an alternative to the conventional understanding on why “motorcycles don’t stand out”, which argue that it is the result of poor conspicuity. Langham shows that experienced drivers actually use learned search patterns which are poor at detecting motorcycles close to the driver, when compared with inexperienced riders who haven’t learned these visual search patterns.

An investigation of the role of vehicle conspicuity in the ‘Looked but failed to see’ error in driving – Martin Paul Langham; Thesis presented for Doctor of Philosophy
University of Sussex School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences

A Bike Odyssey – a journey on two wheels

by Kevin Williams

Sometime in August 1975, aged 19, I got mobile.

I’d spent a year out between school and university and cycling to work when the railways were on strike had convinced me there were easier ways to get from A to B than bicycles. With a university place beckoning in central London, I also needed a way of getting around in the city, as well as something cheap to run and easy to park.

A motorcycle was the obvious answer. Continue reading

Bikers aren’t bad people

Presentation by Kevin Williams MSc of Survival Skills Rider Training to the National Motorcycle Safety Seminar, Tuesday 16 November



Some years ago, I was waiting for a candidate to come back from the old-style Driving Standards Agency (DSA) motorcycle test when the examiner turned up early minus the trainee. That’s normally a sign the trainee’s lost the examiner (it happens), the bike’s broken down (occasionally) or the bike’s been dropped and is too damaged to ride (not uncommon if it happens during the on-road U turn – the brake or clutch levers can snap off). In this case, he told me that she’d dropped the bike. Continue reading