Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Motorbike accidents in the media: part the .... 9

I really, really didn't think I'd be able to find a 9-cylinder motorbike.
Well, guess what? I couldn't.
There are rumours and hints, the most promising ones centred around another aircraft rotary engine, but I couldn't pin down anything definite. The best lead, complete with photo, turned out to be somebody who didn't check their facts thinking that a monster W3 engine had nine-cylinders. Uh, no.
But, moving on.
The number of stories seems to be increasing. Putting aside my delayed updates, I currently have seven tabs open, some of them dealing with the same incident, and another couple tagged and yet to open. I wonder if this actually represents an increase in accidents, or if suddenly they're more likely to be reported? Hmmm...
There seems to be a definite trend for Courier Mail headlines to get longer without getting any more useful. Personally, I would have started with the death, and left the speed part out of the headline entirely.
A 38-year-old man from Inala was killed when his black Suzuki bike collided with a bus turning from Forest Lake Boulevarde into Grand Avenue about 6pm.
Mentioning the brand, that's rare! He died, female pillion was taken to hospital.
The Forensic Crash Unit is investigating the cause but police said it appears the motorcyclist may have been speeding.
Given the size, visibility and general lumbering nature of a bus, that's likely. However, 6pm in early June is dusk turning into night, and without more details it's hard to tell that the bus driver didn't simply start pulling out and the rider panicked, locking the brakes instead of trying to swerve, hitting the horn, whatever.
There is a little box under the photo which says "The force of the impact can be seen clearly from the damage to the bus", but they must be referring to a different photo. I can't see any damage on the bus, just dirt and age. They may have meant "damage to the bike". The window above the wheel seems to be missing, so maybe the bike hit the rear wheel and the rider went up and through the window.
In which case the most likely scenario is the bike was traveling along Forest Lake Boulevard, which is a major road, and the bus was turning across it. In which case yes, the bike was traveling far in excess of any sane speed. The time it would take for a bus to travel almost all the way across the road is way more than the time it would take a bike to stop from 100, let alone 60.
There looks like there's a lot of information here, but actually: not really.
There is a bonus second entry in this report:
In another serious crash, a motorcyclist suffered multiple fractures after allegedly going through a red light on Kingston Road at Loganlea and running into the front of a car.
The 33-year-old was taken to the PA Hospital with suspected broken legs, pelvis and arms.
The car driver was unhurt.
This is actually a more complete and less frustrating report. It pretty much says everything with no extras and no supposition, and it sadly reads like another case of a dickhead getting caught out.
The article then mentions a single-vehicle car accident and closes with: Queensland’s 2010 road toll now stands at 98 lives lost, 56 fewer than at the same time last year.
Which is surely going to be ammunition for the "speed cameras work" brigade.
For the record: I don't think it's possible to come to that conclusion - there are too many confounding variables and the numbers just aren't big enough. But I Am Not An Ethnographer, and may be wrong.
In summary: not a bad story, but slightly frustrating, not quite enough detail, and frankly the headline is sensationalistic.
From ABC News Online from June 2 comes a six-paragraph story headlined "Man jailed for killing motorcyclist", a sentence guaranteed to bring a glow of sourly retributive "it's about time" satisfaction to any motorcyclist's heart.
Essentially: 70yo man, at Lowood at 1:30am:
The court was told his vehicle was travelling on the wrong side of the road below a crest on a hill when it crashed into a motorbike travelling in the opposite direction, killing the driver.
First of all, Maria Hatzakis, nice economically written and punchy story, but motorcycles have "riders". Only vehicles with more than two wheels have "drivers". The sub-editor really should have picked up on that, as well.
Lowood is a country sort of place, and it's likely there were absolutely no lights other than the vehicles'. Bike came over crest, thought "OH FU..." and crashed, fatally. It is sometimes possible to see lights coming over a hill, not always, and with the spread of lights from vehicles, not with any precision. The driver could also have wandered at the last minute. The driver, remember, was 70.
He has been disqualified from "obtaining or holding" a drivers licence for four years, and I sincerely doubt that he will ever get it back, at that age.
Some of the writing is a bit loose, but actually a nicely comprehensive article.
Also from ABC News Online, from June 5, comes "Motorcyclist charged after police chase".
Now, I've said this before, and I'll say it again: If you're being chased by police, pull over and cop it. There's a slim chance you can challenge whatever they were going to fine you for, but there's no chance if you run away. Evading police is an offence, it's dangerous and you lose any right to plead innocence or mitigating circumstances. You stuffed up: Take the consequences.
And this is why:
In March this year, laws were introduced increasing penalties for people who refused to stop for police.
The change was dubbed Skye's Law after toddler Skye Sassine, who was killed in a crash on New Year's Eve in Sydney's south-west.
Yes, well.
Police say he reached 140 in a 60 zone, they called off the chase after he crossed onto the wrong side of the road, and they arrested him after they found his bike in a driveway.
You see, they have cameras in cars: If they're chasing you, they know your numberplate. They know who owns the bike, and where it should be garaged.
He was remanded in custody.
No sympathy.
This is a tighter-written story, without an author's byline, than the one above with an author's byline. Go figure.
One more, I think, a short one:
Three paragraphs, of decreasing length. The headline is a little longer than I would allow, but it keeps interest. "Rider crashes over cliff at Dundas" would do equally well. The fact he's still alive and rescue crews are trying to get to him can probably wait for the opening paragraph.
Now: Mount Glorious, 10:40am... I'm sorry, but the only explanation that isn't "he ran out of talent" involves getting frightened by a vehicle, bike or car, speeding the other way. He may have hit gravel or leaves or oil, he may have been doing the speed limit. It's just highly unlikely.
What's astonishing is that the article is so bald it doesn't even mention speed or any suspected cause. Just the barest of facts. Makes a nice change, really.
With that, I shall sign off. Only two weeks behind schedule.

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