Speeding Advice

The rules the local constabulary must follow when nicking you for speeding are complex and thorough. Our guide will equip assist you in making the most of your rights should that summons arrive.

To get an accurate speed check, your bike must be the only vehicle in the line of view:

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has its own manual on speeding. It states “Radar speed meters are designed to measure the speed of one vehicle at a time. Should there be more than one vehicle present in the radar field of view, it is possible for the device to detect two different signals and alternately display different speeds, in which case the check must be aborted.”

That means that if there’s another vehicle around, the speed on the radar may be the speed of that vehicle and not your bike, and the evidence should be scrapped even if the vehicle was a long way behind you.

“It is quite possible for the signal from a large vehicle some distance behind a smaller vehicle to override the signal from the nearer vehicle,” says the manual.

The guidelines warn that “An operator must not measure and make detections for prosecution when more than one vehicle is within the radar detection range.”

The same rules apply to unmanned speed cameras, including GATSOS. With reference to the photographic evidence these devices rely on, the guide says: “Where there is a suggestion in the negative that two or more vehicles are or may be in the measurement field, the reading should be disregarded.”

The speed check must be done in line with your bike’s path:

This applies to both handheld radars and lasers. It means that the speed check must be done from a position directly in front of your bike, on a straight stretch of road. If it’s not, the reading will be inaccurate and should be scrapped.

There must be no large road signs, hoardings, pillar boxes, bus stops or other large stationary objects in the area:

According to the manual, objects such as these can reflect and scatter the signal from a handheld radar, making accurate speed measurement impossible. “It is therefore an important requirement to check a site before starting measurements,” it says. “The operator should always select a site with a clear view of the oncoming traffic which is free of any large objects such as bus shelters, large road signs and metal fences or crash barriers which are close to the radar. To avoid multiple reflections, the radar must not be operated under or through bridges or railway arches,” it continues.

It goes on to say: “Police radio transmitters, whether handheld or car mounted, must not be used at the moment a vehicle speed is being measured.” The site must also be away from high voltage overhead lines, transmitting masts or towers, airports or harbours, or places where high power radio transmitters may be expected.

Handheld radars must be aimed at your vehicle for a minimum of 3 seconds for a valid check, within a distance of 200 metres:

Once a reading has appeared on the display, the radar device should be held steady, pointing along the road for a duration of not less than 3 seconds. During this period a steady reading must be obtained which equates to the observations of the operator.

Officers using handheld devices should be clearly visible and should stand at the roadside, not on the central reservation:

This applies to both laser and radar equipment. “Handheld radar speedometers should only be operated by an officer on foot,” says the manual, before later stating that “operators of devices should normally do so from positions where they will be clearly visible to the public.

Stats revealed by Government reveal 472 biker deaths in 2009

The number reported as seriously injured also fell 4% to 5,350; whilst the total reported biker casualties for 2009 is 20,703 – again 4% down on 2008. This is despite motorbike traffic rising by 2% over the same period.

The Motorcycle Industry Association said police Bike Safety initiatives, intelligent enforcement, engineering improvement standards, and commitment from trainers to improve standards has contributed to a safer motorbiking environment.

MCIA CEO Steve Kenwood said: “Although there is still a strong concern about the number of biker casualties, year after year motorcycling continues to get safer in terms of the chances of having an accident.

“The report that the decline in motorcycle fatalities during 2009 is welcome, but we cannot be complacent about this – there are still too many people dying in accidents – we still have much work to do.

“The MCIA and the motorcycling community will strive to work hard to improve safety and ensure they get full government support for a more rounded approach to road user safety.

Reports confirmed that in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in 2008, 252 bikers were killed or seriously injured, and 849 suffered an injury in road traffic accidents. 65% of all injuries resulted from impacts involving a motorcycle or scooter at junctions and 35% of those incidents, the other motorist failed to see the motorcycle.

Lancashire County Council (in partnership with Lancashire Police) have launched a campaign to give motorists advice and training encouraging them to think more about motorcyclists; while in Norfolk, the THINK campaign run by the council, the three emergency service and the Highways Agency offers motorcyclists the chance to enhance their riding through additional training.

The number of bikers killed or seriously injured on Norfolk’s roads fell from 102 in 2008 to 93 in 2009, an 8.8% fall.

Top Ten Motorcycle Accident Avoidance Tips

1

Give yourself the best chance of staying upright by regularly servicing and maintaining your motorcycle.

As you learned on your training course, carry out routine daily checks to ensure everything’s working; wouldn’t you feel a prat if someone rear-ended you at night because your tail light bulb had blown!

Tyres in good condition with a decent amount of tread depth, inflated to the correct pressure will give the rider much better feedback.

Remember, your tyres will need time to warm up to operating temperature for optimum grip. This fluctuates according to ambient and road temperature and riding style. If in doubt, read the owner’s manual or consult your local dealer for advice.

2

You’ve had a blazing row with your partner, the credit card bill’s just arrived, the cat’s deposited in your new Shoei lid – time to go for a spin to let off steam? Probably not!

Even the world’s best motorcycle racers don’t perform well if their mind is not focused on the job, so launching out for a spirited ride to quell your anger probably isn’t a wise move for anyone. The same is to be said for being tired, hung over or under the weather.

Stay inside, calm down/get better and then enjoy your ride.

3

Riding too close to the vehicle in front reduces your available braking distance, reduces visibility and reduces the chances of other motorists seeing you.

Keep at least a two-second gap between your machine and the vehicle in front (two chevrons). Allow four seconds or more if the road is wet, poor visibility, or you’re following a high-sided vehicle.

Pick a fixed point in the road, start counting when the vehicle in front passes it. If you’ve reached it before you’ve counted ONE THOUSAND, TWO THOUSAND then you’re too close!

4

The speed at which a motorcycle is travelling at can be deceptive. Brisk acceleration, coupled with a liberal smattering of new rider excitement can result in a novice substantially topping the speed limit without even realising it.

Any increase in speed above the speed limit also boosts the chances of an accident and getting nicked. Aim to stay within the speed limit at all times by regularly checking your clocks.

5

The right motorcycle gear will help save your flesh in an accdent but good quality kit can also help reduce the chances of an accident before it’s started.

Research has proved that riders who wear brightly coloured helmets and protective clothing substantially reduce the chances of being involved in an accident involving another motorist.

Also, quality kit that keeps the rider warm and dry also helps them stay alert in wet and cold weather, giving better reaction times than a bike who’s wet through and cold. Look for Goretex, or similar breathable membranes when investing in new kit.

We also recommend fitting an anti-mist shield in your helmet. These reduce ‘misting-up’, maximising your visibility.

6

Making your way through a busy car park or town centre in slow moving traffic is a fine art and requires good clutch control, so keep your bike skills sharp by practising them as often as you can.

Ideally, find a disused road, airfield or car park to polish up your emergency braking and clutch control skills. It’s also great way to familiarise yourself with a new bike.

Run through the braking sequences you were taught by your instructor to keep it smooth and steady. A good emergency stop should never look too dramatic.

Try placing a couple of objects on the floor to practice figure of 8s, focusing on what you’re riding around while balancing throttle, clutch and back brake. On a disused road try doing a u-turn without putting your foot down, practice makes perfect and it will improve your clutch control.

After a while the skills will become second nature, which means you are less likely to grab a handful of front brake when if you need to stop quickly. It’ll also mean you can look cool when riding, feet-up, into your local bike meet.

7

Rideouts with the right bunch of people can be a wonderful experience. But if you’re unlucky enough to be thrown in the deep end, with a bunch of ‘Sunday power rangers’ looking for a race on a sunny afternoon, then we suggest going it alone!

It’s difficult enough learning to get comfortable on public roads without some idiot chopping your nose off at every turn and pulling unexpected manoeuvres in an attempt to show off to the newbie.

Pick a sensible mate from which to learn; someone who you respect for the right reasons. Enjoy developing your skills at your own pace, not theirs.

8

Taking to the road when the gritters are out is a sure-fire way of knackering your bike and probably yourself.

Black ice, cold tyres, poor visibility and a lack of grip most of the time means a hard-hitting faceplant is not so much ‘if’ but ‘when’. Now add a healthy dose of clueless car drivers attempting the same feat and we think you get the picture. Same rules apply for torrential rain and high winds.

9

Lack of attention to the changing road surface is one of the most common reasons many new riders fall from their motorcycle.

A diesel spill, gravel strewn across the road, or a patch of wet leaves under a tree will usually cause no problem for a car driver, but can prove the undoing of any biker. Balancing on just two wheels, rather than four, motorcycle tyres rely heavily on good road surfaces for grip when accelerating, braking and cornering.

Survey the road ahead for changes in road surface, looking out for; draining covers, slippery tarmac, gravel or wet leaves.

All dodgy road conditions should be treated with caution. Avoid heavy braking, sharp acceleration or fast cornering. Judicious use of the back brake is far better than grabbing a handful of front. A day or two at an off-road school will really help develop your skills to tackle this.

10

Despite their reputation for being tedious and run by a bunch of old farts on BMWs, advanced riding courses are a great way of furthering your riding skills. A number of good motorcycle training companies offer advanced and pass plus courses, the latter of which are specifically tailored for new riders.

As we have already mentioned, defensive riding is the name of the game and what better way to learn than on a advanced skills course?

Tyres – Your legal obligations

If you ride with damaged or worn tyres you are in danger of being fined and in breach of your insurance policy.

General requirements

Every tyre fitted to a motorcycle, car or even a trailer or caravan must be fit for purpose and be free from defects which might damage the road or endanger an individual. This means the tyre:

  1. must be compatible with the other tyres fitted to the other wheel(s)
  2. must not have a lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of the structure
  3. must not have a cut or tear in excess of 25mm or 10% of the width of the tyre and which is deep enough to reach the ply or cord
  4. must not have any part of the ply or cord exposed

Note: A vehicle is liable to fail an MOT if a tyre has any of the above faults or if the vehicle has tyres of different nominal size or aspect ratio on the same axle.

Duty to maintain

Each tyre must be correctly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s and the tyre manufacturer’s recommended pressure. (‘Run-flat’ tyres partially inflated or in flat condition are permitted in certain circumstances.)

Tread depth

Must not fall below the legal minimum. The tread is that part of the tyre in contact with the road in normal conditions. The minimum depth of tread depends on the class of vehicle.

Type of vehicle Minimum tread depth
Passenger vehicles (other than motorcycles) for not more than 8 seated passengers

Goods vehicles not exceeding 3,500kg max gross weight

Light trailers not exceeding 3,500kg max gross weight

At least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band in the centre 3/4 of the tread and around the entire circumference
Most vehicles larger than those listed above

Motorcycles 50cc and over with or without sidecar

At least 1.0mm throughout a continuous band across at least 3/4 of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference

NB: In the quarter where the tread may be less than 1.0mm, the original tread pattern must be visible

Mopeds and motorbikes under 50cc Original tread pattern must be visible

Penalties

Where a vehicle fitted with an illegal or defective tyre is used on a road, a police officer may give the driver a fixed penalty notice.

A police officer has discretion not to issue a fixed penalty but to report the case for prosecution. In law, the driver and the owner (if different) are liable and one or both may be summonsed.

The maximum fine which a court can impose for using a vehicle with a defective tyre is £2,500 and three penalty points.

If a vehicle is fitted with more than one defective tyre, you can be summonsed for each tyre which is illegal. Disqualification is also possible in certain circumstances.

Motorcycle Deaths Up – DFT

Britain is in a period where the number of road deaths is ‘fairly stable’, with most annual changes relating to ‘random variation’, according to the DfT’s annual report giving casualty statistics for 2015. However, motorcycle deaths increased by 8% in 2015 compared to 2014

The report, published yesterday shows that 1,732 people were killed in reported road traffic accidents in Great Britain in 2015 – the second lowest on record after 2013.

Although this represents a decrease of 43 fatalities (or 2.4%) from 2014, the report says that ‘natural variation’ explains the reduction.

The DfT says in statistical terms the number of fatalities has remained unchanged since 2011. There were 45% fewer fatalities in 2015 than a decade earlier in 2006 and 4% fewer than the 2010-14 average.

To read or download the report CLICK HERE