Saturday, 17 July 2010

Motorbike accidents in the media - Part the V12

Knowing that people have put V8 and V10 car engines in motorbikes, it shouldn't surprise you to hear that they've done it with automotive V12s as well. In this case, a BMW V12 in a drag bike, god help us all.
Perhaps the most well-executed monstrosity I have seen for a while, however, is the Millyard V12, a Kawasaki with two Z1300 inline six engines grafted onto a common crankcase to make a 2.6 (or 2.5 with rounding)L V12. Info here, pictures here and video here.
Getting that out of the way, I need to clear a backlog of accident stories again.
Let's see if I can get them in chronological order, this time.
What is with the Mail and their headlines? Also, does it seem wrong to you that "Macgregor" is spelt with only the one capital?
28yo rider, residential neighborhood, thankfully didn't die but did receive head injuries so don't celebrate just yet.
The critical point here is "just before midnight", in winter. Cold, late. Drinking a bit? Dog ran across the road? Cold-numbed? Dazzled by car headlights? Run off road by car headlights?
Three paragraphs does not for a highly informative article make, but they did get a police comment, as uninformative as it was. The headline is really the only thing wrong, here.
July 3: Man loses leg in motorcycle crash (Queensland Times)
First off: Ouch.
This time, the headline is direct and to the point, and then the lead paragraph brings in "sickening". Oh, well.
The 34-year-old was riding his motorcycle at the intersection of Queen Street and Smiths Road at Goodna when he collided with a Kenworth tip truck.
Why, exactly, is the make of the truck relevant?
First off, he was a local, which may have make him a bit cocky and unobservant. Or, the truck stuffed up.
The intersection in question (Google Maps) is major, and a roundabout. Roundabouts should in theory work really well, provided the roads leading in are of roughly equal value, but they introduce so many horror scenarios it's not funny. I'm extremely familiar with this particular roundabout, and it's not my favourite.
The accident happened about 8.20am. Police said the truck driver was unharmed.
Time is probably relevant - rush hour, maybe somebody was running late. Or, the driver of the truck wasn't paying close enough attention and ran over a bike below his line of sight.
However, I am forced to ask again: How exactly could a collision with a bike harm a truck driver?
Touch of over-writing at the start, but a decent article.
This is, typical of a lot of the ABC's short items that don't have a journalist's byline attached, very concisely written.
A man has died after being thrown from his motorcycle on Bathurst Street in Sydney's north-west.
The 56-year-old failed to negotiate a bend and hit a ditch in the road.
Question one: "Was thrown" or "came off"? I'm not sure how I feel about anyone other than owners using language which imbues mechanics with intent.
Secondly, the second paragraph fails on two points: "failed to negotiate a bend" is police-ese not journalism-ese, and what was a ditch doing in the road? Did he fail to make the bend and run off into a ditch, or came around the bend, saw a ditch-sized pothole, thought "OH, SHIT" and been unable to avoid it? Should there, in point of fact, have been signs up? Were there?
Post-mortem will try and determine cause of crash. How, exactly? Short of a heart attack, that's probably a job for accident investigators.
Kudos, however, to whoever tried CPR. Give them a medal, they're a very rare breed.
This article, on the other hand, frustrates the hell out of me. It just leaves too many questions unanswered.
The entire article is:
A 29-year-old motorbike rider has died after a crash in East Brighton, east of Melbourne.
The man hit a parked car after 1:30pm (AEST) today.
A passenger on the motorbike escaped unharmed.
What happened?
I really do question the value of this. It's not enough to make an interesting story, there's not enough detail to inform friends or relatives who may not have heard yet, there's not enough detail to make people sit and up and wonder if perhaps they should keep a wary eye out when they hit the road later.
It's a nothing vignette, existing only to let people know there had been another road accident, and leaving entirely open the baffling question of why someone would hit a parked car in the first place.
July 8: Officer in motorcycle accident (Queensland Times)
Um... Yes? Officer of what?
A POLICE officer from the State Traffic Task Force was injured in an accident on the Ipswich Motorway yesterday.
Oh, right. Police. Why couldn't you say so?
Okay, in all honesty it was probably a reasonable assumption to make and a reasonable headline.
The officer was conducting highway patrols on a motorcycle, which ran into the back of a Subaru sedan on the Brisbane-bound lanes at Redbank – near the Shell service station – about 12.27pm.
Now I, as a motorcyclist who has been pulled over by the police for doing something technically illegal but safe (riding on the verge past near-stationary traffic), am finding it hard not to giggle at this point, with a touch of schadenfreude.
Police officers are extremely highly trained and have extremely good bikes - BMW, Yamaha and Honda tourers that aren't cheap even before all the police gear gets bolted on. Exactly how did he manage that? I'm guessing that if the car did something extremely wrong somebody, a colleague perhaps, but definitely somebody would have booked the driver then and there.
And the Ipswich Motorway is a horribly inadequate road, but midday is not the really busy time.
He didn't require hospitalisation, so it wasn't even a big shunt.
What interests me, however, is that the police have launched a departmental inquiry, not "forensic accident investigators will examine the scene."
Okay, one more:
July 14: Man injured in motorbike crash (ABC News Online)
Ummm... Yes? That's generally what happens.
This story has a byline, and that means we can assume a slightly looser, flowing style of writing, and that's what we get.
This may well be the first article that I really can't fault.
Man lost control in a jump while riding a dirt bike and training for a race, hit a tree, suffered spinal injuries, was taken to hospital. As an added bonus, the helicopter service provided two pictures, although they really don't add all that much except atmosphere.
There aren't any really unanswered questions here. I'm not sure it's of any interest at all outside the circle of locals and dirt bike riders, but it's not a bad little item.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Motorbike accidents in the media, part 11.

Has there been an eleven cylinder motorbike? Possibly, but I can't find it, and for that I am profoundly glad.

This is really getting away from me. I have several stories open in Firefox tabs, several more waiting to be opened, and there's almost a complete row of tabs. At this point, I'm not sure if this represents an increase in accidents or an increase in reporting.

That is a slightly odd headline. Using the indefinite article twice looks like a slightly clumsy attempt at correct grammar, and one which headlines usually ignore in favour of brevity. The headline also doesn't say who was injured, leaving the reader to assume it may have been the driver and the rider.

Actually, no: Two young men on the bike, aged 25 and 20, both received compound fractures.

The five paragraphs in this story contain enough information for three solid paragraphs, and any mention of circumstances, or even the apparently usual "The driver of the car was unhurt", is not included.

There was an odd formatting error in the web page, however.

It feels rushed, both in writing and posting.

Next up, also from the Courier Mail, is Woman killed in Townsville crash between motorbike and truck (June 01).

Interestingly, not only is this article better written, but includes an inline link to the approximate address on Google Maps. Which is, unsurprisingly, a major intersection, although there is no information given about what each vehicle may have been doing.

The interesting thing about this collision is that it was at 11am - everybody should have been awake, and it was no longer rush hour.

In contrast to a great many stories I've covered in this series, this one didn't contain any more information but was better written and presented.

Still from the Courier Mail, Man dies in motorcycle crash in Toowoomba, from June 14.

Seven paragraphs here, and surprisingly they're not all wasted - largely because only five of them are dealing with the accident.

6pm - dark, rush hour - a ute was waiting to turn right across traffic from a multi-lane road.

Traffic behind the vehicle was merging into the left lane but the motorcycle failed to merge and crashed into the back of the ute.

I can't really fault this article beyond putting "slamming into" in the opening paragraph.

I do have to question whether the ute had its lights on, and how the rider had a big enough lapse in concentration to crash into the back of it.

Since he was DOA at the hospital, we'll never know.

The last two paragraphs of the story are:
The fatality takes Queensland's 2010 road toll to 107 lives lost, including 20 motorcyclists.
At the same time last year 166 people had died on Queensland roads, 36 of them motorcyclists.

My personal wish is that any politician who gets up and says "This proves that being tougher on speeding saves lives" gets forced to write out "Correlation does not prove causation", 10,000 times or until they cry for mercy.

And if anybody has done an in-depth analysis of all the road-safety factors in recent years, I would love to know about it.

I'll finish with one more article, from the Ipswich-based Queensland Times: Motorcyclist airlifted to hospital, June 28, a headline so terse it's frustrating.

Five paragraphs, the last of which is "A spokesman for RACQ CareFlight said she was in a stable condition."

Essentially, a woman was riding a motorbike by herself at 9.45am on a Saturday morning when she "fell off her motorbike going around a corner."

Near the Maroon Dam probably means the Boonah Rathdowney Rd, which looks rather interesting and is immediately on my list of places to visit one of these days. From the look of the road, I'd say the usual suspects apply: oil, leaves, gravel, running out of talent.

Thankfully she's not dead, but suspected spinal injuries is nothing to be grateful for. I'm wondering why she was taken to the Toowoomba Base Hospital, not Ipswich or even Gold Coast - prevailing winds may have decided the pilot, for all I know.

For a nice change, this article is written in a very readable style instead of over-terse news-ese, and couldn't really include more information without actually talking to the woman, who was probably highly sedated at the time.
Four stories, none of them saying enough but, on the other hand, none of them really getting anything majorly wrong, either.

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