Steve's tips on road sharing between cars and motorcycles
AS A motorcyclist and driving instructor Grafton's Steve Blaylock knows the safety issues confronting bikers and car drivers sharing the road from both sides.
The instructor with the Clarence Valley Driving School rides his 1200cc Yamaha Tenere adventure bike with the Big River Riders on weekly rides up to 500km long around the region, so he is aware of the problems facing more vulnerable road users.
"Basically you should be a good defensive car driver before you even consider getting a licence to ride a motorbike," Steve said.
He said the thing that made motorbikes more vulnerable on the road was lack of visibility.
"In just about every accident involving a car and a bike, the driver of the car said they didn't see the motorbike," he said.
But he said the fault hardly ever lies on one side.
"Tunnel vision is genuinely a problem with a lot of car drivers," he said. "A lot of them can't see anything that's not 10m directly in front of them.
"I would say in about 90% of accidents where a car hits a bike, the driver has not seen it."
But Steve had some tips for bike riders to avoid accidents.
"Being very visible is the key," he said. "A lot of bike riders are wearing fluro vests, which helps them stand out.
"Riders need to be aware of where the blinds spots in a car are and not stay in a spot where a driver can't see you."
He said modern bikes had safety features built into them to help make them more visible.
"The headlights of most modern bikes come on now with the ignition switch," he said.
He said bike riders also needed to realise their size and the power to weight ratio of a bike made it easy to get close to a car without the driver being aware of it.
But he stressed both drivers and riders needed to constantly have their wits about them.
"Drivers definitely need to have more eyes on the road at all times," he said. "There are too many things to distract you in the car; CD players, phones and radios that stop you from having full control of the vehicle at all times."
He also said riders and drivers needed to keep up to date with the road rules.
"A lot of drivers and riders would not know the lane filtering rules have changed this year," Steve said.
"The rules have changed so that now it's legal for a bike to travel in the lane between cars if traffic is moving under 30kmh.
"It's not permitted between the kerb and cars and for L and P plate riders."
He said all licence holders should do regular knowledge and skills tests and would like to see tests made compulsory for experienced drivers to continue to keep their licence.
"Most licence holders don't do a test between when they get their licence and when they turn 85," he said.
"There should be regular tests that are not too difficult where if you don't pass, you get the chance to study and take it again in a month.
"You don't lose your licence, but you always have to come back until you pass them."