Canberra Times photo of Police at the scene of the Tharwa Road accident
From the Canberra Times report (my bolding):
"Before 3.30pm, the Evatt man was riding south, when he swerved around a plastic road barrier that closed off the section of Tharwa Road south of the Lanyon Homestead.
The motorcycle then ploughed through a wire fence behind the road barrier, and the man was flung about 4m from his bike.
Emergency services arrived at the scene shortly after, and paramedics attempted to resuscitate and stabilise the man, but he was soon pronounced dead.
Police believe that the motorcyclist was speeding, and said there was adequate signage warning of the road closure."
So the sequence of events leading to this event are:
- He was traveling along Lanyon Road,
- He rode around a 'road closed' sign,
- He rode around plastic barriers across the road,
- He collided with the fence across the closed off part of the road,
- He was ejected from his motorcycle and died as a result of the injuries sustained upon impact.
On the ABC television news last night I watched the report of the accident, and then the Australian Federal Policeman interviewed by the media who attended the accident. The ABC News presenter, goes on to say that police believe speeding was a factor in the accident. This is also reported in the Canberra Times.
This jump to immediately isolate speed as the cause is a knee jerk response. Its the sort of response given to the media without thought, intended to scare all drivers into driving slower. Does this mean I should travel at 60 km/h on the 80 km/h sections of the Parkway from now on ? I'm not sure.
I am not the coroner, but the information publicly available indicates that the accident was caused by careless driving and inattention. Speed may have been a factor, but not the major, primary or most relevant factor.
One factor which needs to be assessed is the proximity of the 'road closed' signage to the fence across the road, and the location of the signage. Was it easily visible or on a blind corner ? The following stills are from the ABC news report.
Plastic barriers on corner
The gate that the deceased rider collided with
Looking back from the gate are, you can see the corner.
The speed limit on that road is
The same result would have occurred at 60 km/h. I am not a physics expert, but I suspect there may be a speed at which one could ride a motorcycle head on into a fence and NOT be thrown from it, but I suspect its pretty low, perhaps lower than 20 km/h.
To often, speed is blamed as a cause of an accident, when it is merely one of a range of factors responsible - the primary factor being poor decision making by the rider/driver, or inadequate road engineering. I will try and keep track of this case, and see what the coroner concludes.
Update: Google Street View of the accident location.
Update 2: The speed limit is 100 km/h on Tharwa Rd
Update 3: The ABC News report is available online.