Despite only comprising 1% of the UK’s street traffic, motorcycles are involved in a huge 19% of road fatalities. According to government statistics, in 2008 alone motorcyclist fatalities reached 493, with a further 5,556 suffering from serious injuries. Striving to tackle this problem, the Department of Transport are now rolling out a bold new advertising campaign.
The new campaign, entitled ‘THINK!’ features motorcyclists riding with obtrusively large neon signs on their back. Each sign displays the rider’s name, along with personality traits which mark out their individually. One of the signs, for example, reads ‘TOM: Shy retiring type’ in a visible Vegas-style glow.
Research has recently shown that drivers who know bikers personally are more mindful of motorbikes on the road. The Department for Transport has therefore created this new campaign to encourage us to think of motorcyclists as human beings and as possible friends.
Building on previous campaigns – such as those asking drivers to pay particular attention at T-Junctions – the Road Safety Minister Paul Clark said that this “exciting new campaign goes a step further by asking drivers to reconsider the way they look at bikers.” He hopes that “this bold new approach will help to reduce the number of motorcyclists killed or hurt in crashes with cars.”
So important is this new strategy that a total £3.5 million is being on this campaign for its current launch. The adverts will be appearing on television, with the first adverts being screened during Coronation Street in London and Emmerdale across the rest of the UK. In addition, TV, radio, cinema and online coverage will be backing up the core television adverts.
Other organisations were quick to support the campaign. Ben Plowden, representing Transport For London, said that “this campaign will help by reaching out to drivers as people”, adding “I urge Londoners to heed the message of this campaign “.
Motorcycle awareness campaigns are no new occurrence. Around three quarters of all motorcycle accidents involve collisions with other vehicles, so educating all road users to increase awareness is important. Thankfully, fatal motorcycle accidents have been decreasing in frequency over the past few years, but heightened awareness could reduce this figure even further.
Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable on the road because of their size, speed and manoeuvrability, all of which often makes them difficult for other motorists to spot. Make sure you have car insurance just in case.
This new campaign adds awareness to the problem of perceived lack of identity behind bicycle helmets. Unlike visible car drivers, motorcyclists are often entirely hidden from view by protective clothing. This lack of noticeable identity can, it appears, lead to careless and potentially dangerous driving.
For those of us who do not personally know any bikers, bikers can be both difficult to spot and also far from our concerns. This campaign works on two important levels by first bringing subtle motorcyclists fully into view using bright signage and also suggesting that bikers be thought of as people rather than just vehicles.
Look out for this new campaign on your screens and newspapers. But more importantly, when you are next on the road, make sure you look out for motorbikes.