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Right To Ride - Enlightened Minister

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In January this year the Minister of the Environment Alex Atwood replied to a question in the Northern Ireland Assembly from Mr Phil Flanagan Sinn Féin, whether his Department has considered requiring drivers to drive with dipped headlights on, at all times between October and March.
 
In his reply the Minister set out the requirements for drivers use of dipped headlights in addition to their use at night, “Drivers are required, under the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (NI) 2000, to use dipped headlights (in addition to their use at night) during daytime when visibility is seriously reduced, for example in adverse weather conditions or in dull daytime weather.”
 
As motorcyclists reading this, you may begin to wonder where this is heading as motorcycles already come fitted from the major motorcycle manufacturers with headlights hard wired (AHO – Automatic Headlights On).
 
However as the title of this article suggests we appear to have an “enlightened” minister.
 
In his response Mr Attwood said “In addition, the cycle and motorcycle lobbies are likely be concerned at the relative lack of conspicuity that would be imposed on them were such a requirement to be imposed and the possible increase in accidents as a consequence. Pedal cycles do not have dipped headlights and motorcycles currently rely on being brighter than other vehicles to improve their conspicuity.”
 
We couldn’t have given a more appropriate answer if the minister had asked us himself!
 
Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012
 
In the recently published, Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012, 79.5% (n.31) of the collisions occurred during daylight hours.
 
Out of the 39 cases, there were seventeen (43.6%) in which another vehicle was considered the primary cause of the collision, in thirteen of these cases the motorcycles all had their lights on.
 
In nine cases the other vehicle driver pulled out in front of the motorcycles and in four cases, performed a U turn across the path of the motorcycle.
 
The evidence highlighted that the other vehicle driver was in a position to see them.
 
However, there appears to be a problem of looking but not seeing which may be due to the size of the motorcycle or simply because the car/van driver is expecting to see another car or van and has difficulty coping with the unexpected.
 
Further investigation into the perception of lights on motorcycles by OV (Other Vehicle) drivers would be warranted.
 
Bright Idea?
 
In February 2010 we replied to a consultation on Daytime Running Lights (DRL) from Ireland’s Road Safety Authority (RSA). Although the consultation was mainly about DRLs the consultation contained a position that, “The Bright Way To Save Lives” – “It’s not just at night that you need to turn on your lights” – “Dipped headlights are an effective way to reduce the number of collisions on our road”.
 
To add to Mr Attwood’s answer, we replied then that, “The concern is that when all vehicles have their dipped beam lights on, motorcycles will lose any advantage in terms of conspicuity that there may have been. As mentioned above in relation to glare and for example intersections, there is considerable documented evidence of the inability of car drivers to “see” approaching motorcycles – in spite of the fact that these motorcycles have dipped headlights on. On the subject of headlight use, some motorcyclists will ride with their main beam on. This seems to be indicative of the opinion that “bright is always right” for all conditions in the belief that having brighter lights on will identify motorcycles from the rest of the traffic.”
 
In the words of rider organisations such as the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK), riders would be, “Lost In A Sea Of Lights” and “Bright Isn’t Always Right” as regards to all vehicles running with dipped beam on during daylight hours.
 
For the Ministers full answer and Links and Information at Right To Ride
 
Don’t Forget Right To Ride on Facebook

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