Germany is replacing dangerous steel road signs and posts with plastic versions to improve safety for motorcyclists who hit them.
The new road signs are being installed to point out that there is a sharp bend coming up.
German safety research facility DEKRA has tested the new road signs and found that a motorcyclist hitting a steel sign has a high risk of being killed, while the plastic signs are only likely to cause minor injuries.
Dangerous steel signs
In 2017, a United Nations road safety report recommended roadside hazards be removed as they are a proven cause of serious motorcycle crash injuries and deaths.
The 108-page World Health Organisation “Powered two- and three-wheeler safety” report says a motorcycle crash with a fixed roadside hazard is 15 times more likely to be fatal than a crash on the ground with no physical contact with a fixed hazard.
They also increase the severity of injuries in such crashes, it says.
DEKRA test against steel post
Yet authorities continue to install signs on metal poles, wire rope barriers and other hazards while continuing to ignore flexible non-harming roadside alternatives such as flexible Chevroflex signs.
The signs are more expensive to install, but cheaper in the long run because they do not need to be replaced after being hit, says Peter Nuttall of Brisbane company RUD Chains which distributes the Glasdon Chevroflex signs and makes the steel anchor points.
Chevroflex is made of large black upright panels that provide a wider angle of approach than traditional metal chevron signs. It gives the appearance of being larger and wider, making it more visible from a distance.
The British-made signs have won road safety awards in the UK and have been used throughout Europe for 25 years.
Cheap safety measures
European motorcyclists and road groups say road infrastructure doesn’t have to be expensive to be safe for motorcyclists.
The Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA) and European Union Road Federation (ERF) have published the report, Improving infrastructure safety for powered two-wheelers, recommending basic and low-cost preventive measures.
They include installing motorcycle protection systems on guardrails, maintaining the skid resistance of pavement markings and ensuring that roads surfaces are properly maintained.