Think Bike' campaign – is it working?
As the spring weather arrives, many motorcyclists will be checking their bikes over and heading out for the first ride of the year. While they only make up a tiny proportion of the UK’s road traffic, motorcyclists account for a disproportionately high number of serious accidents on Britain’s roads every year – 10 per cent of all serious and fatal accidents, according to research from the Department of Transport. To try and reduce this number and to make other road users more aware of the vulnerability of motorcyclists, the government relaunched the ‘Think Bike’ campaign in 2006. But has the campaign had the desired effect? Are road users more aware of motorcyclists?
Statistics suggest that despite a visually striking campaign on the television, motorists are still having trouble recognising the dangers that motorcyclists face on a daily basis. “Unfortunately, we still represent a lot of clients who have been involved in a serious motorcycle accident,” comments Matt Dixon of serious accident claims specialists Sherrington Law. “While some drivers may have become more aware of the vulnerability of motorcyclists through the advertising campaign, the majority of car drivers don’t realise just how serious the message is until they are actually involved in a collision with a motorcyclist themselves. It seems that the ‘shock value’ of some adverts created by the DoT has been wasted on an apathetic driving public,” he adds.
One of the complaints about the campaign is that it appears to be aimed more towards motorcyclists themselves, rather than four-wheeled road users. Critics believe that this is a case of the DoT ‘preaching to the converted’, as motorcyclists already know how vulnerable they are. Another problem is the image that ‘public safety information films’ have with viewers. “Most people tend to ‘zone out’ when they see a public safety advert, believing it doesn’t apply to them,” says Matt Dixon. “Unless they ride a motorcycle themselves, the majority of the viewing public believe that the onus of responsibility is still on the motorcyclist and not the car driver. The truth is that everyone using Britain’s roads should be aware of all road users and not just other cars,” he adds.
A waste of money?
So is the campaign a waste of money? Those dealing with the consequences of a serious motorcycle accident and the devastating effect they can have on an entire family’s lives think not. “If the campaign saves just one life from being wrecked by a moment’s inattention on the part of another driver, then it’s worthwhile,” believes Matt Dixon. “It’s taken people nearly 40 years to get the message about wearing seatbelts in cars, so it may be that the Think Bike campaign just needs more time to really connect with the public. Perhaps showing the long-term consequences of pulling out in front of a motorcyclist at a junction might drive the message home a little more powerfully. If people could actually see what it means to have to deal with a serious head or spinal injury for the rest of your life, they may be a little more considerate towards their two-wheeled colleagues on the road,” he concludes.