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Irish Road Haulage Association: headphone ban more important than safe passing law

Organisation also moots a points system to keep bad cyclists off the roads

A lorry drivers association in Ireland is trying to push through a ban on cyclists wearing headphones.

The Irish Road Haulage Association also wants a points system to punish cyclists who flout the law.

“This is primarily about safety and education,” Verona Murphy, president of the road hauliers’ association, said, according to the Times. “A driver has no way of knowing whether a cyclist is informed about road safety laws, and that makes sharing the road very difficult.”

Speaking at the Oireachtas transport committee this week, Ms Murphy said that these sorts of measures would improve safety more than a 1.5m minimum passing distance for drivers.

She said this would be hard to enforce.

“In theory it makes sense, but I predict a lot of rows over whether the driver was or was not within the specific distance,” Ms Murphy said. “It would be just as easy for a garda to stop a cyclist for wearing headphones.”

Headphone wearing couriers, who took calls from employers as they rode their bikes, were the worst offenders, she said.

“They are the new boy racers, and they try to outdo each other with no regard for others on the road. It is just bad practice,” she said.

Cian Ginty, editor of Irishcycle.com, said: “A total ban would be completely silly. If you follow that logic, we should ban deaf people from cycling. No country in the world has a licensing system for cyclists because they do not pose enough of a threat and because it would be a waste of taxpayers’ money.”

In 2015 we reported how Brighton and Hove City Council came under fire from a number of cyclists for a safety poster intended to highlight the dangers of wearing headphones while cycling.

Featuring a man riding with headphones on, it reads: “Headphones can prevent you from hearing traffic. Share the road, share the responsibility.”

A number of cyclists were critical of the message and an adapted version has appeared on social media reading: “There’s no evidence wearing headphones is hazardous but we’re blaming cyclists anyway. Share the roads, take all the blame.”

Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, defended the poster. She said that it was part of a larger campaign focusing on the dangers of distraction.

“The council’s road safety awareness campaign is aimed at motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, with six different posters carrying messages about the dangers of distraction from headphones, mobile phones and other devices.

“The campaign was launched following road traffic collision statistics for Brighton and Hove over the last three years which show that failing to look properly is by far the biggest contributory factor. As a new administration, we are committed to improving road safety in the city for all road users and will be looking at new and innovative ways to refresh our road safety campaigns and messages.”

 

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41 comments

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antigee | 6 years ago
0 likes

not my country but I'd expect the spokesperson for an industry body to encourage safe driving rather than complain about the actions of a small minority of cyclists, shame on them

when you see a story like this you know it isn't about scoring points

 

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/i-held-her-hand-and-asked-god-to-save-her-says-woman-who-rushed-to-help-tragic-cyclist-35571448.html

 

 

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Yorkshire wallet | 6 years ago
2 likes

I sometimes wonder how many people on here don't actually own a car. I have never felt 'completely isolated' in a car. Then again I've never had my stereo at 130db or whatever.

Riding a bike is a hell of a lot less stressful than driving a car through a town centre IMO. Part of that is the fact it's rare the bike can kill anyone and although we complain about people on devices in cars, it's pedestrians that zombie walk everywhere  and cause some of the biggest problems.

That and taxi drivers.

 

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WolfieSmith | 6 years ago
1 like

I used to think it was dangerous but I started using earphones recently and realised it makes no difference to my safety. 

Admittedly I'm on quieter roads in the NW these days and I wouldn't  use them in town but like motorists with the music on full blast I use my eyes when driving or riding not my ears.

If only I could bring  in a law  to force pedestrians to cross the road using their eyes rather than just their ears...

 

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KarlM77 | 6 years ago
1 like

The call from the IRHA isn't only for cycling, they are also looking for a ban to be applied to pedestrians also.

Its essentially an outdoor ban on headphone use. Police that.

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tritecommentbot | 6 years ago
1 like

I also think the statement, no one would get anything delivered needs examined. I'd really need to see the economics behind that to make sure there isn't a way for the industry to run without subsidies based on contemporary technology.

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700c | 6 years ago
1 like

Neither cycling with headphones nor listening to the radio in a car are unsafe activities.  Car infotainment/ sat nav systems on the other hand can be a massive distraction.

It's typical ill-thought-out nonsense from someone who doesn't have a clue what cycling with traffic is actually like.  I would say it's like focussing on helmets before addressing unsafe driving - but actually it's even more of a red herring than that old chestnut.. 

 

 

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hawkinspeter | 6 years ago
1 like

Before banning headphones on bikes, they should first ban all hearing-impaired drivers and cyclists from the road. Let's see how they get on with that.

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PaulCee52 | 6 years ago
0 likes

I assume police officers involved in the close pass scheme wouldn't be able to use radio earpieces then?

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skull-collector... | 6 years ago
2 likes

BAN CAR WINDOWS AND RADIOS !!! IT'S SAFER AS YOU CAN HEAR THE TRAFFIC. 

 

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Ush | 6 years ago
7 likes

This is just a diversionary tactic from the IRHA.... they've thrown a dead cat onto the table in order to refocus debate away from:

* their failure to upgrade their members' equipment to higher standards

* their failure to pay full CO2-emissions costs

* their continued contribution of over-laden trucks to degrading the decaying road infrastructure

* their failure to route out of small towns and villages

Waste of their time really:  the world is changing and their inefficient and inappropriate industry can only  contract.

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DrJDog replied to Ush | 6 years ago
1 like
Ush wrote:

This is just a diversionary tactic from the IRHA.... they've thrown a dead cat onto the table in order to refocus debate away from:

* their failure to pay full CO2-emissions costs

* their continued contribution of over-laden trucks to degrading the decaying road infrastructure

 

If you put these two up to full price then the economy would collapse because no one could get anything delivered. HGV transport is subsidised for a reason, like train travel, or farming, or whatever.

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Ush replied to DrJDog | 6 years ago
1 like
DrJDog wrote:
Ush wrote:

This is just a diversionary tactic from the IRHA.... they've thrown a dead cat onto the table in order to refocus debate away from:

* their failure to pay full CO2-emissions costs

* their continued contribution of over-laden trucks to degrading the decaying road infrastructure

 

If you put these two up to full price then the economy would collapse because no one could get anything delivered. HGV transport is subsidised for a reason, like train travel, or farming, or whatever.

Don't totally disagree with you. But the point is that in an industry which sees margins around 4%, large subsidies by government, etc,  road hauliers need to distract public attention away from the fact that they are being allowed to make the profits they do by skimping on expensive improvements which would eat into said profits.

 

None of this is anything to do with cyclist headphones and all to do with hoping that no one notices that we have an inefficient system and fixing those inefficiencies means less money for the owners.

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to DrJDog | 6 years ago
2 likes
DrJDog wrote:
Ush wrote:

This is just a diversionary tactic from the IRHA.... they've thrown a dead cat onto the table in order to refocus debate away from:

* their failure to pay full CO2-emissions costs

* their continued contribution of over-laden trucks to degrading the decaying road infrastructure

 

If you put these two up to full price then the economy would collapse because no one could get anything delivered. HGV transport is subsidised for a reason, like train travel, or farming, or whatever.

I think that needs a lot more thought. You can't just end the argument there. If something can only function if it's subsidised (and subsidised invisibly and 'off the books' at that), then the first conclusion to draw is that things are arranged wrongly in the first place.

Subsidies distort choices and incentives. If costs are hidden, people will make sub-optimal choices. The more something is subsidised the more society and the economy will adjust to become dependent on that thing, requiring still more subsidies.

Which doesn't make all subsidies wrong, but to justify them requires a more substantial argument than just saying that whatever it is that is being subsidised can't function without them.

Edit - and as Ush said, it gets even more of an issue if the subsidised activity is also making private profits for someone.

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beezus fufoon | 6 years ago
0 likes

took a phone call the other day - I'd forgotten my ear bud thingys so I was riding one handed for about 30 minutes - would definitiely have preferred to have had both hands on the bars, both for comfort and safety reasons

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muffies | 6 years ago
1 like

Meh, truth is it's safer without headphones and you know it.

A car is also safer without radio, yes. And without people talking to the driver, GPS, etc.

 

Basically I'm not saying headphones should be banned, as they shouldn't (by that logic we should ban going outside your home) - but like anything else it's a bit more risky when you use them. That's what they're playing on as a distraction of course, because more useful measures are an impediment for them.

Still, lets not use blanket and incorrect statements just because we like to bike and they don't.

 

Just for fun, here's a similar list:

- require disc brakes

- require tires of at least 40mm width

- require certified bike maintenance every 1000km

- require hiviz clothing

- require horn on bike

-ban bikes at night time

-ban left turns on bikes

 

all of these probably make bikes a little less risky, yet would be as ridiculous to enforce

 

i hope they don't pick from my list.

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kevvjj replied to muffies | 6 years ago
5 likes
muffies wrote:

Meh, truth is it's safer without headphones and you know it.

A car is also safer without radio, yes. And without people talking to the driver, GPS, etc.

Basically I'm not saying headphones should be banned, as they shouldn't (by that logic we should ban going outside your home) - but like anything else it's a bit more risky when you use them. That's what they're playing on as a distraction of course, because more useful measures are an impediment for them.

Still, lets not use blanket and incorrect statements just because we like to bike and they don't.

 

Just for fun, here's a similar list:

- require disc brakes

- require tires of at least 40mm width

- require certified bike maintenance every 1000km

- require hiviz clothing

- require horn on bike

-ban bikes at night time

-ban left turns on bikes

all of these probably make bikes a little less risky, yet would be as ridiculous to enforce

i hope they don't pick from my list.

Oh, the irony in your statment "Still, lets not use blanket and incorrect statements just because we like to bike and they don't." Please show me the links to the studies that back up this statement: "Meh, truth is it's safer without headphones and you know it." 

Take a look at this first: https://rideonmagazine.com.au/an-ear-on-the-traffic/

To summarise... Conclusions

Based on these relatively simple tests, it is fair to conclude that:
In-ear earphones on the left and ear bud earphones on the right

A bike rider with ear-bud earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears much more outside noise than a car driver, even when that driver has no music playing.

A bike rider with in-ear earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears about the same outside noise as a car driver with no music playing, but more than a car driver playing music.
Ear-bud earphones set at a reasonable volume still allow riders to clearly hear the warning sounds of other riders.

 

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ooldbaker replied to kevvjj | 6 years ago
1 like
kevvjj wrote:

 

Take a look at this first: https://rideonmagazine.com.au/an-ear-on-the-traffic/

To summarise... Conclusions

....

A bike rider with ear-bud earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears much more outside noise than a car driver, even when that driver has no music playing.

.....

 

To be fair these comparisons with cars ignore the fact that bikes:

  • Are more vulnerable from being struck from behind. 
  • Usually have no rear view mirrors.
  • Our speed difference with cars mean, outside towns and cities certainly, we get caught up and overtaken much more often.

Having said that the latest information and entertainment centres advertised in cars scare the living daylights out of me whether in a car or on a bike.

 

 

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FluffyKittenofT... replied to ooldbaker | 6 years ago
0 likes
ooldbaker wrote:
kevvjj wrote:

 

Take a look at this first: https://rideonmagazine.com.au/an-ear-on-the-traffic/

To summarise... Conclusions

....

A bike rider with ear-bud earphones playing music at a reasonable volume hears much more outside noise than a car driver, even when that driver has no music playing.

.....

 

To be fair these comparisons with cars ignore the fact that bikes:

  • Are more vulnerable from being struck from behind. 
  • Usually have no rear view mirrors.
  • Our speed difference with cars mean, outside towns and cities certainly, we get caught up and overtaken much more often.

Having said that the latest information and entertainment centres advertised in cars scare the living daylights out of me whether in a car or on a bike.

 

 

Don't get your points there. The first one just seems to be presuming that the responsibility must fall on the more vulnerable party rather than the more dangerous one. That seems arse-backwards to me.

The second rather ignores the fact that people can look behind them, and that bikes have var better all-round visibility than do cars.

Not sure about the third, as I'm rarely, if ever, 'outside towns and cities'.

Anyway, personally I consider headphones too distracting for me to use when cycling, but I'd like to know how I'm supposed to blot out the distracting racket from the sound systems of the cars next to me.

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Morat | 6 years ago
5 likes

Seems to me that the easiest way for a Councillor to get some column inches is to come up with some ridiculous BS involving cyclists. No thought needed.

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Tommytrucker | 6 years ago
12 likes

Spectacularly missing the point. As 'professional drivers', the onus should be on them to be aware and allow space for vulnerable road users, being aware that they may not be as experienced on the roads as yourself. I do it daily and without issue, why should it be any different for these people?

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dafyddp | 6 years ago
4 likes

Couriers are the new boy racers, apart from the old boy racers I'm guessing, because driving a pimped-up 03 plate Nova with a 3000W amp pumping out drum'n'bass doesn't distract drivers (and everyone within a 100 meter radius) at all.

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Mungecrundle | 6 years ago
11 likes

And the number of incidents where a cyclist (wearing headphones or not) has been found responsible for the death of a truck driver as the result of a collision, say in the last 50 years is?....

Although why anyone would voluntarily choose to significantly handicap a major sense in a potentially dangerous environment just so they can drift along in their own personalised La La Land of distraction is quite beyond me.

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PeteG0780 | 6 years ago
7 likes

Why don't governments, specifically Irish and U.K., follow the example set in countries where there are more bikes than cars and road users co-exist amicably, like, for example Holland and Denmark. These two countries have a law of ‘strict liability’ to protect vulnerable road users from more powerful road users. Under this law, in crashes involving vulnerable road users, unless it can be clearly proven that the vulnerable road user was at fault, the more powerful road user is found liable by default. This makes total sense and would make other road users show much more respect to both cyclists and pedestrians.

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gmac101 | 6 years ago
5 likes

Talking about banning headphones normally means the person concerned has never actually ridden a bike.  In most commuter traffic there is so much noise from all the other vehicles using sound as a guide to what is happening behind you is pretty hopeless and once you are traveling at a reasonable speed (over 15mph ?) the wind noise obscures a lot of sound.  Commentators who think banning bike users from wearing headphones will provide a significant safety gain are living in some kind of cloud cuckoo land.

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Bentrider | 6 years ago
7 likes

They can take my headphones from me when every radio, CD player, mp3 player and loudspeaker has been removed from every motor vehicle on the road, along with the soundproofing which insulates drivers from any perception of the outside world.

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brooksby replied to Bentrider | 6 years ago
4 likes
Bentrider wrote:

They can take my headphones from me when every radio, CD player, mp3 player and loudspeaker has been removed from every motor vehicle on the road, along with the soundproofing which insulates drivers from any perception of the outside world.

Valid point. I almost never drive, nowadays. For various reasons I had to do taxi duty for my daughter yesterday. Weird experience. Felt like playing a computer game, locked behind a glass screen in a big lumbering metal box. And that was in a 1970 beetle with minimal soundproofing- I can't imagine what it's like in a modern car.

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Username replied to brooksby | 6 years ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:

And that was in a 1970 beetle with minimal soundproofing- I can't imagine what it's like in a modern car.

 

My (2006) car has lots of sound-proofing including double-glazed windows. It also has a very good stereo. If the windows are rolled up (most of the time because the a/c on) and the stereo is turned up, it is a completely isolating experience.

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FrankH | 6 years ago
2 likes

'Councillor Gill Mitchell, chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee... [said]

“The campaign was launched following road traffic collision statistics for Brighton and Hove over the last three years which show that failing to look properly is by far the biggest contributory factor..." '

Gill doesn't say who failed to look properly. In some parallel universe it's probably perfectly logical to stop cyclists wearing headphones because cyclists and/or some other people don't look properly. I'm trying to work out how wearing headphones stop people looking.

By the way, I don't wear headphones on the bike but I used to wear earplugs when riding my motorbike and could still hear the traffic around me.

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Housecathst | 6 years ago
7 likes

Maybe my hearing is different to everybody else's but I can't tell the difference between the motor vehicle that pass 3 inches from my elbow (as per normal) and the one that hit me from behind, it all sounded the same. 

The road haulage association are just the same as terrorists blaming their victims, if you don't do x we wouldn't have to kill you! 

Oh thank you, thank you so much... 

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Argos74 | 6 years ago
11 likes

On a purely personal, anecdotal level, I don't use headphones. On road, changes in engine pitch tell me a lot about vehicle location, direction, speed, acceleration and possible imminent changes in direction. For a quick urban cyclist, it suits me. Offroad, there's dogwalkers, runners, families with kids to be not ride into, and birds and all that nature stuff. So again, headphones wouldn't work for me there.

But on a more general, universal level, I haven't heard so much rubbish since I lay down in a field with sandwiches, cake and vintage lemonade, and listened to a herd of male cows voiding their bowels.

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