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Bikers slam re-run of TAC motorcycle safety ad as showing ‘reckless disregard for riders’

TAC’s ‘The Ride’ TV ad, created in 2009

The Transport Accident Commission’s re-run of a motorbike safety commercial created four years ago has prompted the ire of Australia’s motorcycling community.

Motorcyclist activist group Stop SMIDSY has slammed the ad, created by Grey Melbourne in 2009, as “misleading” and said it shows “a reckless disregard for riders and road safety”.

The angry response from motorcyclists is yet another battle in the war with the TAC over the government body’s portrayal of riders in road safety advertising. 

John Voyage of Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, the law firm that backs the Stop SMIDSY campaign, said the re-airing of ad “flies in the face” of government recommendations on motorcycle safety released in December last year.

He said: “The decision to re-run a widely condemned ad flies in the face of the hard work and strong recommendations of the recent Parliamentary Motorcycle Safety Inquiry.”

“It suggests that TAC is challenging the legitimacy of the state parliamentary road safety committee, whose report cites the Monash University Accident Research Centre’s Professor Mark Stevenson as saying the ‘38 times more likely figure’ is inaccurate.”

“The result is that money is being wasted on a campaign which alienates the target audience – riders will just tune out because the focus of the ad isn’t realistic or believable, it fails to deal with driver awareness and it reinforces negative stereotypes of motorcyclists,” he said.

Voyage called on the Victorian government to “pull its road safety authority in to line” and act in response to the report’s recommendations.

One poster on the Stop SMIDSY Facebook page took issue with the TAC’s re-introduction of a billboard on Melbourne roads that uses the line from the TV ad: ‘Motorcyclists have 38 times the risk of serious injury’.

A post on Stop SMIDSY’s Facebook page also accused the TAC of “hubris”:

The TAC hits new low by rerunning “The Ride” ad featuring the “it’s up to you to reduce the risks” line. To revisit this sentiment and ignore shared responsibility (despite this approach being savaged throughout Vic Parl’s M/C Inquiry) is astounding, counterproductive and antagonistic. Stop SMIDSY only hopes the hubris displayed stems from staffing issues – surely no one seriously thought this was going to engage riders … did they?!

But the TAC defended its decision to re-air the ad, telling Mumbrella:

Summer is a good time to ride and more motorcyclists are using the roads. That’s why it’s an opportune time to speak to both drivers and riders about looking out for each other.

The campaign currently on television – The Ride – was made in 2009. It features both rider and driver error which ultimately puts the rider at risk. The campaign is reminding motorcyclists that regardless of who is at fault in a crash, it will be them who comes off second best.

We know that most riders do the right thing, but we would like all the riding community to be safe.

That’s why this ad also encourages riders to make choices that reduce their risks each time they jump on their bike.

The government body said that it planned to air an ad called Vice Versa, that targets drivers urging them to see motorcyclists’ point of view, in “the next few months”.

The TAC also confronted motorcyclists’ claims that ‘The Ride’ went against the wishes of the government motorcycle safety enquiry.

A statement read:

The TAC understands that some riders are concerned that screening this ad goes against the wishes of the Parliamentary Road Safety Committee’s inquiry into motorcycle safety.

One of the recommendations is to consult with motorcycle groups at the inception, production and post-production stages of our campaigns. The TAC will be undertaking this consultation when developing new campaigns.

Until new campaigns are in development, we have a responsibility to keep all road users safe on our roads.

In November last year, the Stop SMIDSY campaign launched its own road safety campaign to hit back at the TAC, pointing out that in accidents between riders and cars, car drivers are usually at fault.

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