I have been unconscionably late with this. The news report I will be discussing is dated 11 days ago, as I start typing. Blame real life assaulting me in a dark alley.
It's this one: Motorbike rider hit by car backing out of driveway in Newtown, Toowoomba, from the Courier Mail.
Fairly unambiguous headline, no?
Also, the editor in me says, too bloody long by half. You can cut out "rider", you can cut out the suburb, and lose nothing important. If someone isn't going to read past the headline, they don't care about the suburb anyway. If they're from Toowoomba, they might be intrigued enough to read on and find out.
The passive voice "hit by" can be removed, giving us "Car backing out of driveway hits motorcyclist in Toowoomba." No, still too long. Also, the important point - the accident - is too far along.
"Motorcyclist hit by reversing car in Toowoomba" would do, if they really wanted to give a location.
Except it's wrong - as we're about to read, the bike hit the car, which drove in front of it. Unfortunately, "Motorcyclist hits reversing car in Toowoomba" introduces a suggestion of ambiguity over where blame lies. Hmmm...
Moving right along:
A MOTORCYCLIST is fighting for his life after colliding with a car backing out of a driveway in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs.
The crash occurred just before 9.30pm Thursday in Tor Street, Newtown.
Police said the bike rider was heading north when a car pulled out into his path and he crashed into the driver's side door.
The impact caused major damage to both vehicles and left the motorcyclist seriously injured.
The 22-year-old female driver was taken to hospital suffering cuts to her face and eyes from shattered glass.
The 35-year-old motorcyclist is in a serious condition in Toowoomba Hospital.
That's it, at present point in time.
First points: It's well and concisely written. It also opens up many questions.
Take, for example, the impact - driver's door. Think about the geometry for a moment.
If the car was reversing, but the motorbike struck the driver's side door, then either it was a one-way street, or the bike was on the wrong side of the road, or the car was reversing really quickly.
But then, in the comments, unverified, we have this:
i was passenger in the car and they want to get the story right we did drive straight out...
Copied verbatim. Would have been interesting for there to be something else, but there we are. So, a basic mistake in reporting. It may have been a mistake in police reporting, or the commenter may not be kosher.
There's no indication of speed of impact beyond "major damage to both vehicles", but if he wasn't paying complete attention he may not have had time to brake at all and even at 60, that's enough.
He also seems to have been riding towards the footpath, not the safer right hand side of the lane. Remember, kids - if you ride near the line, in the wheel tracks of those four-wheeled vehicles, then drivers behind you and approaching you are more likely to see you, you get a clean bit of road, and you get more warning when people try and pull out of side streets and driveways.
Leaving aside the debate over whether the motorcyclist could have positioned himself better for visibility, I can not conceive of any way in which this was not entirely, completely, the driver's fault. The rider could have been more defensive and minimised injuries, or even avoided the crash entirely if there was nothing coming the other way - a big if - but the driver must have pulled out, into traffic, without paying due care and attention.
Except for the comments, which are quite amusing.
Several talking about the safety benefits of driving out of driveways instead of backing out, which is gratifying to see.
There is the guaranteed comment about hi-vis vests, and this beautiful response, from BikerTips of Brisbane:
A high-vis covering won't help if you aren't going to look. It's very easy to "see" bikes - take that extra second to look, not glance, and then another to take note of a bike's velocity before deciding to pull out and change or cross lanes. Also, if you cannot see clearly due to conditions and surounds, go slowly!
I haven't said it better myself.
On the same vein, from housedadextrordinaire:
Hope the rider recovers. Making excuses for the car's design doesn't excuse not seeing a motor-cyclist or cyclist. Have a good look and turn the radio/cd or I-pod off until you have driven off safely. Yep, I will agree, all our cars have poor rear vision. Adjust your driving to suit the conditions or WALK!!
And on that note, I will leave you.