Motorsport will never be safe but can it be safer?

Wednesday 4th September 2019

Motorsport will never be safe but can it be safer?                                                        

Motorsport is without a doubt dangerous for both those who participate and spectators, in particular, at rallies. But isn’t that the appeal? A recent report produced by the Review Group on Motorsport Event Safety in Scotland was spot on in saying 'motor racing is inherently dangerous and rallies can never be completely safe for participants or spectators'.

The report addressed a range of themes at motorsports events and how safety might be improved for those in attendance, participating and working at them. 

The report is very good and the members of the Group clearly understand the nuances of motorsports.

MotoGP and Formula 1 are huge businesses and operations and have a huge safety focus but that’s not what we are putting under the microscope here.

National rally events, motorcycle racing and the like are by and large run by volunteers and have less of a focus on safety than there should be. There have been instances where volunteer marshals have been the first on the scene at incidents, in some cases involving fatalities where spectators have been standing in prohibited areas.

These sports wouldn't exist if it weren't for dedicated, passionate and well-meaning volunteers who make them happen so in many respects you can’t have it both ways.

By nature motorsports events involve driving extremely fast. This means the driver/rider/co-driver are always in danger. This is understood and accepted by all concerned.

However, spectator safety is the greater issue. Spectators should be able to go to watch an event with a reasonable expectation of being safe but also have a responsibility themselves.

With vehicles traveling at break-neck speed there is always the risk of an accident and it's quite possible that accident might injure spectators. 

It’s crucial that organisers take all reasonable precautions and establish safe areas for spectators and unsafe (prohibited) areas.

There are generally two different types of spectators at motorsports events. 

There are the enthusiasts who tend to arrive early to get their exact spot from which to watch the event and are used to waiting around in bad weather. There are also other types, often locals, who are simply attending as it's a large event happening close to them. 

The enthusiasts can be very difficult to direct and can often think they know better and the general public attendees can cause issues through not understanding what happens at motorsports events. They're likely not used to the prohibited areas thing and won't know the 'etiquette' involved. 

To summarise these events need to be planned and managed as well as any other public mass gathering event. They are inherently unsafe and need to be treated as such. 

You can read the full report here.



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