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Men With Red Flags Next? - October 19th 2006

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    The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the UK's leading rider organisation says, the proposed amendment discussed recently in Parliament to the Road Safety Bill regarding compulsory lights for motorcycles illustrates the sad appetite for simple panaceas for road safety at which some politicians still grasp.

    The amendment required motorcycles to use dipped headlights with a rear red light and confusingly in the same breath the use of compulsory Daytime Running Lights (DRL) during the daytime, there is a vast difference between dipped headlights and Day Time Running Lights.

    The parliamentary debate within which the amendment was discussed embraced a European Union consultation to introduce a mandatory requirement for all vehicles to display some form of lighting requirements by day, something to which MAG is fiercely opposed.

    The Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman, a motorcyclist himself, is opposing this compulsory measure from Europe and has mirrored MAG's view that with all vehicles using lights motorcycles are more likely to be lost amidst a sea of lights

    However he also said that in this country motorcycles use day-time running lights and that they should be made compulsory for motorcycles only, so as not to lose any of the "safety" benefits gained. This viewpoint from the Minister and the proposed amendment shows a technical bewilderment from our political representatives.

    MAG Director of Public Affairs Trevor Baird, commenting on the failed amendment said. "Mr Knight's amendment which fortunately failed, was based on an assumption that daytime light use offers safety benefits, whereas no such proof exists. Had the amendment been accepted it would have achieved nothing other than criminalising those riders who chose not to use headlights in perfect visibility. Riders know from experience that they could have a lighthouse strapped to their bike and other vehicle drivers would still not see them."

    MAG says the conspicuity issue it is not about making motorcycles brighter it is about educating other vehicle drivers to look and see motorcyclists, riders will not take the blame for not being seen.

    MAG President Ian Mutch said, "The Minister is to be applauded on one hand for standing up for UK riders in the face of this EU demand for obligatory madness, however he does need to get his facts right. We appreciate that the EU seeks to harmonise many things across the continent but when it resorts to harmonising stupidity we have to object. They'll be demanding that motorcycles are preceded by men waving red flags next."