Force launches state-of-the-art motorcycle safety simulator to help drive down deaths and serious injuries

Devon and Cornwall Police is piloting a new state-of-the-art simulator in an effort to reduce the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads.

Apr 15, 2024
By Paul Jacques

The mobile motorcycle simulator is the first of its kind in the UK and will be used to pilot a national initiative, testing the effectiveness of simulated hazard awareness training and its impact on the reduction of serious and fatal collisions.

Using a real motorbike – a Honda CB500X – the simulator is operated using custom software to test rider’s hazard awareness skills with authentic controls including brakes, clutch, throttle and indicators to replicate real-life road conditions.

The force said the aim was to “provide vital skills to inexperienced riders in a safe environment”.

Motorcyclists are one of the most vulnerable road user groups. Despite making up just one per cent of total traffic, motorcyclists account for almost 21 per cent of road deaths in Devon and Cornwall.

In 2022, 16 motorcyclists were killed on Devon and Cornwall’s roads and a further 187 were left seriously injured, prompting the creation of a dedicated task force, supported by the Vision Zero South West road safety partnership, to help drive down these numbers.

The simulator is part of national scheme ‘Project APEX’, which aims to reduce the number of motorcycle casualties and collisions across the country.

Devon and Cornwall Police took delivery of the motorcycle road safety simulator following months of planning and a successful funding bid to the Department for Transport and Vision Zero South West.

Throughout last year, the Road Casualty Reduction Team at Devon and Cornwall Police introduced Operation Cosset, which utilised police drones to detect unsafe motorcycle riders and assisted officers to provide education surrounding reducing risk on the roads.

The team also worked with motorcycle dealerships to offer observed rides and additional training, installed proactive signage on high-harm routes, offered advice at public events, and worked with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service to deliver ‘Streetwise’ sessions to schools and colleges across the region. This resulted in a 56 per cent reduction in motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries.

Using the simulator, riders aged 16 and over will be surrounded by integrated video screens to provide an immersive experience; replicating a huge range of road layouts, weather conditions and driving environments, and enhanced by realistic vibration, surround sound and working wing mirrors.

Motorcycle Casualty Reduction Officer Ian Harvey said: “Motorcyclists are one of the highest risk road users in Devon and Cornwall and across the UK, and we’re hoping the simulator will help us to provide vital skills to inexperienced riders in a safe environment.

“Every death and serious injury on our roads has a devastating impact. We’ll be using the simulator at every available opportunity to engage with riders about how they can hone their skills and help us to reduce the number of deaths or serious injuries on UK roads.”

Natalie Warr, partnership manager of Vision Zero South West, said: “Our collective aim is to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Devon and Cornwall’s roads – and we are committed to supporting innovative and creative projects such as this.

“We know additional training is an effective way of improving road user skills and awareness, which is why the partnership was so keen to back this exciting project.

“As a partnership, we have supported Devon and Cornwall Police with a number of pioneering motorcycle safety projects – including Operation Cosset and a targeted behaviour change campaign led by biker legend Henry Cole. The results so far have been really encouraging so we look forward to seeing the full impact of this work in the future.”

Over coming months, the team will be taking the simulator to colleges across Devon and Cornwall, where students will have the opportunity to speak to the team and evaluate their experience, providing vital feedback to the national project in terms of the suitability of using the simulator as a potential training aid.

The simulator will also be at local large-scale public events throughout the summer, such as Bideford Motorcycle Show, The Mega Ride Festival, Devon County Show, Royal Cornwall Show, Torbay Air Show and Plymouth Armed Forces Day, as well as national events including Formula 1, MotoGP and British Superbikes.

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