Police motorcycle simulator rolled out to save lives by delivering hazard perception training for bikers

View of the cockpit
View of the cockpit

Clever tech could help bring down accident rates in the south west thanks to Devon and Cornwall Police’s new bike simulator.   

Despite making up just one percent of total traffic, motorcyclists account for a quarter of all road deaths nationally. 16 motorcyclists were killed on Devon and Cornwall roads and a further 187 were seriously injured. 

Prompted by these worrying statistics, a dedicated task force was established to improve road safety. Throughout last year the team set about interacting with the local motorcycling community to deliver ‘Streetwise’ sessions, prompting a 56% reduction in motorcycle related deaths and serious injuries. 

Under the national Project ‘Apex’ initiative, the team then acquired the simulator as part of plans to engage with riders aged 16-24 according to Chief Inspector Simon Jenkinson.   

Outside shot of the van which will be taken around the country to deliver hazard perception training

The 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. 

The device makes use of a Honda CB500X housed within a van that can be easily moved between events. The operator of the unit will then be able to test pupils on their hazard perception abilities, using custom software to throw various scenarios into the mix. 

Riders aged 16 and over can access the training. The bike reportedly responds just like the real thing, with braking, gear changes and throttle all operating as if to replicate real-life riding. 

Various weather conditions can be simulated and multiple screens surround the rider to offer an immersive environment. Surround sound, realistic vibration and working mirrors further add to the realistic feeling. Nearly 100 miles of road network, complete with accurate UK road signing is on hand to prevent repetition for users. 

Police watch rider try the simulator

Various scenarios can be created to provide an “unlimited number of exercises with different levels of complexity.” From this, data analysis can be extracted to provide feedback points, all without exposing the user to the risk of actually riding a motorcycle in hazardous conditions. 

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. 

Rider tries out the simulator watched by instructor

“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 & Cornwall Police with a number of pioneering motorcycle safety projects – including Op 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 and MotoGP and British Superbikes rounds.