What do I do in the meantime?

So often is the case, we lie in wait until a solution to a problem is discovered or more so until the solution is implemented and is working.

If we look at motorcycle safety as an overarching concern, then it is with merit to identify certain issues that do or may cause motorcycle accidents…in fact we could extend this further into general road safety or any other area of concern and apply the same principles.

There are of course certain triggers that we may perceive as being the main causes and we may even campaign to effect changes to improve our position. Continue reading

Cango? Willgo!


Collisions involve two road users attempting to occupy the same space on the road at the same time. Many accidents involving motorcycles are collisions with other road users, where the rider was taken by surprise but the collision was otherwise both commonplace and avoidable. The Cango?-Willgo! concept explains collisions in terms of prediction failure rather than the commonly-accepted explanation of rule-breaking or judgment failure. Cango?-Willgo! further extends the basic principle of No Surprise: No Accident. Continue reading

What clues are at accident scenes which will truly determine the causes?


Over many years of responding to motorcycle accidents, I have often wondered how much of the cause information and data extracted from scenes is actually made available to the public.

Of course there are general statements & causal factors and accident statistics that are readily available, but do we ever get the specifics of particular motorcycle accidents and how thoroughly are the root causes investigated.

One of the major problems of road collision investigation is that it rarely looks beyond the immediate cause and contributing factors are not given the prominence they may deserve.

What we need to ask is: :What caused the cause?”

In other transport collision investigations there is much more investigation into root causes and this information is generally disseminated through the user groups & industry…such as in aviation, although thankfully other transport modes tend to see much less frequent requirement for investigation and this is probably why they can invest so much more time on each one. Continue reading

IPSGA II – A new paradigm for the use of information in ‘The System’

ipsga II jpeg

For those of you not familiar with I.P.S.G.A or “The System” as it is popularly known it’s the favourite acronym of the advanced riding industry and stands for Information Position Speed Gear Accelerate. It was first devised at the Police College at Hendon over 60 years ago and has formed the core of the Police Rider’s Handbook or Roadcraft since then.

Taking the description of IPSGA straight from Wikipedia;
1. Information received from the outside world by observation, and given by use of signals such as direction indicators, headlamp flashes, and horn; is a general theme running continuously throughout the application of the system by taking, using and giving information;
2. Position on the road optimised for safety, visibility and correct routing, followed by best progress;
3. Speed appropriate to the hazard being approached, attained via explicit braking or throttle control (engine braking), always being able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear on your side of the road;
4. Gear appropriate for maximum vehicle control through the hazard, selected in one shift; and
5. Acceleration for clearing the hazard safely.
The taking, using and giving of Information is, arguably, most important and surrounds (and drives) the five phases IPSGA. It may, and often should, be re-applied at any phase in the System.
The System is used whenever a hazard requires a manoeuvre. A hazard is something which requires a change in speed, direction or both. The benefit of applying a systematic approach to driving is to reduce the simultaneous demands on the vehicle, the driver mentally and the driver physically. That is, the System seeks to separate out the phases of a manoeuvre into a logical sequence so that the vehicle and the driver avoid being overwhelmed by having to do too much at the same time. For example, braking and steering at the same time place greater demands on the vehicle’s available grip and in the worst case can lead to a skid. Continue reading

Complexity made simple.

Multivariate systems only appear to be complex if you don’t understand them. The weather for example seems to be massively complex, but once people understood the heat cycle then how the weather actually worked was no longer a mystery. Same goes for continental drift, germ theory, evolution and a whole raft of other scientific enquiries. The road transport system looks at first glance to be very complex, but once you start to pare it down to its fundamentals it’s not as scary as it first appears.

What the road safety industry has been lacking up ‘til now is a simple theory of road accident causation. Without such a theory or framework all solutions to the accident problem may appear to be valid even though a lot of them are probably without merit. We have stacks of data about the problem, but no theory to determine which bits of data are valid and which are not worth bothering with. Continue reading

Deluded about memory decay!

How do we prevent ourselves from being caught out by a series of events that ultimately lead us to having an accident?

Once we have been taught how to do something, then we will never forget how to do it!… Wrong! Anything that has been learnt and requires some conscious thought can be ‘unlearned’, forgotten and even misplaced or misunderstood with the passage of time. Even something so ‘natural’ as speaking can be forgotten if we do not speak for many years. There are plenty of examples of this from forgetting a second language or forgetting foreign words to forgetting a first and only language.

We are kidding ourselves if we believe that we will always remember skills or knowledge without any form of practice, recurrent training and self awareness that we need to brush up on our skills and knowledge. Continue reading

Crashing Sucks

by Duncan MacKillop

There’s a strange moment of peace as you sail over the bonnet of the car that’s just pulled out in front of you. You have left the horrible splintering, crunching sound behind leaving just the faint whistle of the wind around your helmet as you begin to contemplate the next few seconds of your existence. You know that from this point on there is absolutely nothing you can do to affect what’s going to happen next and that whatever does happen is going to happen according to the immutable laws of Newtonian physics. I had plenty of time to see that it was the bonnet of a Hillman Avenger that I sailed over in what I eventually learnt was called a SMIDSY, but it was the fast approaching, hard and unforgiving Tarmac in front of me that really caught my attention. When the landing did finally happen it wasn’t what you would call elegant in any way. First to hit with a sickening cracking, crunching sound was my left shoulder followed in short order by the crack of the rather low-tech Stadium helmet I was wearing and then I can’t really remember much after that. Continue reading

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

You don’t have to have an accident!

by Alf Gasparro

Founder of HELI BIKES – Motorcycle Safety Initiative

UK Air Ambulance Pilot

Whilst working at the forefront of prehospital emergency medicine for many years on UK air ambulances, I have responded to hundreds of motorcycle accidents dealing with the full spectrum of injuries, fatalities and causes.

A few realisations gained prominence quite early on in my career and those still remain to this day as I continue to attend regular motorcycle incidents, along with the rest of the emergency services all over the globe! 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