The fatal allure of an audience

March 5, 2010

Ever thought there might be more than one kind of person who rides a motorcycle? No flies on you then. Definitive new research carried out for the DfT by the top-secret Transport Research Laboratory has discovered that there are in fact no fewer than seven different kinds.

Are you a biker? Then see below to find out which kind you are! If not, keep reading anyway for the sheer joy of ploughing through a lot of neologistical jargon-mongery.

Performance disciples (PDs)
Worshiping at the altar of speed, these loons ride flat out all year round, taking no prisoners along the way.

Performance hobbyists (PHs)
For these summer-only hedonists, TRL claim, “riding is all about individual experiences and sensations.”

Riding disciples (RDs)
Sworn devotees of the bike messiah, these guys live to ride, bond strongly with other bikers, and, allegedly, with their bikes.

Riding hobbyists (RHs)
Mild mannered “weekend warriors,” usually bearded and bulbous in their leathers, typically into the social aspect.

Car rejecters (CRs)
Don’t like bikes much, but like traffic jams still less – can sometimes turn out to be ladies when they remove their helmets.

Car aspirants (CAs)
Would rather have a proper motor, but can’t afford one yet.

Look-at-me enthusiasts (LAMEs)
These young, or mentally retarded, bikers are enthusiastic about being looked at, obviously, making up in recklessness what they lack in having the faintest clue what they are doing.

RDs and RHs are the least likely to have accidents. PDs crash often – but then they ride a lot further. CAs and LAMEs are most likely to be involved in accidents – basically because they don’t know what they are doing. CRs and PHs are also a bit suspect on the riding skills, but since they ride less far, they crash less often.

Each type has its own distinctive attitude to risk. PDs adopt what TRL call “precautionary fatalism,” fending off death with a combination of skill and “armour.” PHs like the idea of danger, but ride cautiously in practice. RDs are like PDs, only cautiouser.

RHs “tend to avoid potentially risky situations altogether,” usually by leaving their bikes at home, presumably. CRs are hating every minute of this, and are acutely aware of risk. CAs tend not to take the whole thing too seriously, because they’ll be buying a car soon. LAMEs deliberately court danger, accepting that biking is risky, but thinking they’re somehow immune.

Disturbingly, TRL reckon that one in four UK bikers is a LAME. Twice as likely to have an accident as RDs, LAMEs will come a cropper once every 29,000 miles. According to a TRL spokesperson, LAMEs “are the group least likely to hesitate about riding in jeans and a T-shirt.”

Typically males under 25, LAMEs “cite acceleration, power and sound as the most important factors when choosing a bike,” and choose protective gear based on looks above performance.

This country needs more young men with that kind of spirit!

January 6, 2010

A cabal of science people pooling the psychologistical talents of Royal Holloway London and Lancaster Universities is set to investigate the possible role of satnav in distracting drivers’ attention and thereby causing accidents.

“If we see any worsening of attention or memory performance while people are carrying out our navigation task,” a science person told The Telegraph, “this might indicate that the navigation system imposes demands on the participant which could be dangerously distracting.”

“By the end of these experiments, we will be able to provide clear measurements of the ways in which the use of in-car navigation systems might interfere with attention and memory performance.”

As soon as the psychologists have established whether or not doing two things simultaneously might in some way involve concentrating less on one or other of these things, Bankstone news will be sure to report back.

Unless a more interesting story comes along and we get distracted.


October 16, 2009

Where do you turn if you’ve had an accident you didn’t like? Accident Exchange, of course. Maybe they can sort you out with a different accident – perhaps one that will work out better for you. And by the sound of it they’re going to be exceedingly busy doing exactly that this month.

October, they reckon (it says so in their press release), is the accidentiest time of year due to the sudden onset of inclement weather. RTAs can be expected to increase by 15% this month (compared with the previous six) because motorists still think it’s summer, when of course it isn’t.

RTAs, incidentally – and some Bankstone News readers may already know this – are Road Traffic Accidents, not to be confused with the more trivial CTAs (Canal Traffic Accidents), the distinctly more sinister DTAs (Drug Traffic Accidents), and of course ATAs (members of the American Tinnitus Association).

Anyway, back to the story, such as it is: one minute the nation’s motorists are blithely coasting along, gangster-leaning with the top down, picnic hamper in the back, when – quite literally out of nowhere – there’s rain, leaves (wrong kind, obviously), grease, mud and kinds of other autumnal crud too multifarious to mention all over the shop, and they’re skidding out of control with a one-way ticket to the ditch.

“Stopping distances on wet and slippery roads can double those of dry conditions,” AE claims, and Bankstone News is willing to bet they do. “A vehicle travelling at 40mph will need up to 72 metres to come to a stop,” they add. Unless of course there’s a tree, a lamppost, or a rather lovely dry stone wall in the way.

When people today are not offering or ensuring, they are often to be found delivering. The months of the year are no different, it seems:

“October delivers some of the worst driving conditions of the year as the weather changes and the clocks go back, but drivers continue as if they were in the summer months,” complains AE’s sturdily-monickered Gordon Grant.

Gordon fears drivers are losing their grip on reality, admonishing: “Motorists need to remember the basic laws of physics and common sense when the conditions under tyre change.”

A timely reminder, if ever Bankstone News heard one.

How do they do that?

September 18, 2009

People are people, so why should it be (pause) you and I should get along so awfully? So pondered vaguely-pervy Essex electro-dweebs Depeche Mode back in 1984.

As clumsy as this earnest rhetoricism may seem, it’s as relevant as ever today as two tribes (lawyers and insurers) go to war over the supposed sharp practice that is… third party capture (aka third party intervention).

“Don’t, don’t you want me,” your typical PI lawyer is apt to sputter, when a potential-client-accident-victim falls for the cheap allure of an insurer’s quickie payout and forsakes the righteous path of law.

Some insurers in Northern Ireland are “deliberately settling accident claims before victims get a chance to contact a solicitor,” the Law Society gasps in consternation. (Sorry, no 80s pop reference in this paragraph.)

Not only, the soliciting professionals suggest, do such fast-tracking shenanigans risk short-changing claimants, they recklessly bypass the invaluable professional input of lawpersons and med bods.

The Law Society has gone so far as to suggest that “Victims are being actively discouraged from seeking legal advice.” This sounds only slightly less bad than being passively discouraged.

Legitimate cause for concern, then?

Nonsense, nonsense, soothes the ABI with suave plausibility: “Insurers want to help innocent victims of road accidents get their vehicle repaired, and get the care and compensation they need, as soon as possible.” Quite so, and girls just wanna have fun. Allegedly.

Surely if we could just put aside such petty squabbling and recognise our common humanity the world would be a better place for victims and non-victims alike.


July 8, 2009

Don’t come at the Admiral from astern! The nautical but nice car insurer is not amused by the rising tide of rear-end collisions on the UK’s roads‚ nor by the suspicious tide of whiplash injuries in their wake.

The 420,000 head to tail collisions on our roads each year account for a quarter of all RTAs, costing the insurance industry half a billion pounds in the process. And with the trend heading only one way, 2009 looks set to be another bumper Year of the Rear.

Commenting on the fact that rear-end collisions have failed to follow the UK’s overall declining trend in accident frequencies, Admiral ventures the suggestion that drivers may be paying insufficient attention to the road ahead.

One in ten of these rear-end accidents results in whiplash claims from vehicle occupants, Admiral says. Whiplash claims alone‚ many of which the insurer suspects may be fraudulent, cost the industry £1.9 billion a year and account for 75 per cent of all personal injury claims.

“Pull up to my bumper, baby,” urged scary popstress Grace Jones in her 1981 hit of that name, “in your long black limousine.”

Wonder if she ever got whiplash.


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