Stakeholders express concern over rising motorcycle casualties

12.00 | 1 July 2016 | | 7 comments

Road safety stakeholders have expressed concern over the rising number of motorcycle casualties across the UK.

Statistics published this week by the DfT, Welsh Government and Transport for London all show an increase in motorcycle casualties in 2015, against a backdrop of static or declining casualty figures for most road user groups.

Across Great Britain, DfT figures show that 365 motorcyclists were killed last year, a year-on-year increase of 8%; motorcyclists accounted for 21% of all fatalities.

44% of those occurred in London and the South East and separate figures from Transport for London also show an increase in motorcycle fatalities from 2014. 36 riders were killed on London’s roads during 2015, up from 27, a year-on-year increase of 33%.

In Wales, there were 273 motorcyclist KSIs during 2015, 6% higher than the 2004-08 average; as a result, the Welsh Government is struggling to meet its 2020 motorcycling casualty target.

A number of stakeholders, including the RAC, IAM RoadSmart, Brake and Road Safety Analysis have expressed concern and issued calls for more to be done to improve the safety of motorcyclists.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “The government must show more leadership to really drive down road deaths in the future. Key trends still show the increasing risk to vulnerable road users, particularly motorcyclists, and big increases in fatal crashes involving vans and lorries.”

Brake says steadily increasing traffic levels – up almost 2% in 2015 – pose a threat to vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists.

Lucy Amos, research advisor for Brake, said: “Vehicle traffic has been steadily increasing for the past few years; action must be taken now to prevent the numbers of vehicles overwhelming safety measures.

"The increase in motorcycle deaths last year is a clear indicator that something must be done now to secure the safety of vulnerable road users in particular. This is why Brake is calling for the reintroduction of ambitious casualty reduction targets to act as a driving force for the fight against road death and injury at the national level."

Richard Owen, a director of Road Safety Analysis, said motorcyclists would benefit from a safe systems approach and ‘well-evidenced interventions’.

He said: "Vulnerable road users (and especially motorcyclists) are not benefitting from the casualty reductions seen for vehicle occupants and the focus should turn to preventing fatal and serious injuries in these groups.

"There is already strong evidence of how reductions can be achieved through implementing safe systems and future casualty reduction must rest on implementing well-evidenced interventions."

David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, described the increase in motorcycling fatalities as “worrying”.



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    It doesn’t matter how good an intervention is, it will not matter a jot unless it’s marketed effectively to motorcyclists. If bikers don’t participate, how will they benefit? They will not know what they’re missing. Bob has commented on many occasions about the need for motorcyclists to manage their space on the road. We need to get this concept into well designed skills development programmes and do some serious thinking about increasing take up.

    Mark – Wiltshire
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    This article:
    would make useful background reading for anyone attempting to interpret statistics, particularly making statements about ‘worrying’ increases in small numbers.

    Kevin Williams / Survival Skills Rider Training
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    I don’t know why motorcylist casualties raise so many eyebrows and cause much hand-wringing. They are the fastest vehicles on the road, only have two wheels and their ‘occupants’ are the least protected – isn’t it inevitable with this combination of factors, that casualties will be high?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    What I have said in the past and will say it again is that we need a unified and national intervention that will enable the vast majority of bikers to undertake further training voluntarily, or to be forced into it by legislation. What we see here in urban areas is commutor bikers, mainly younger inexperienced riders with the only knowledge coming from a few hours CBT, losing it on busy urban roads – and on the other side the back to biking brigade who after some years away from bikes have rediscovered their youth and cannot control either the bike or their right wrist or have little knowledge or experience other than at some point in time many years ago.

    What and how we need to teach them also needs some serious looking at. Some good changes have just recently taken place such as avoiding the other side of road for increased forward vision and not entering into an invidious position too close to white lines on left handed bends. Also, no longer encouraging, but actually discouraging trainees to overtake and in doing so exceed the legal speed limit. That said it is not enough as overtakes and bends are still the primary cause of motorcycle KSIs out on country roads and the training over the last 50 or 60 years has proved to be fatally flawed as stats can confirm, something is terribly wrong with that tuition.

    What we now need is a new start and that I am sure will be endorsed by the Chief Police Officers Road Safety Council and the Motorcycle Manufacturing Association who should now be listened to. We should throw away the Police Riders Manual and have a civilion road safety book similar to the one made for and by motorcyclists in the Netherlands. We should nurture new-to-motorcying youngsters and teach them over a period of time what is acceptable and what is not on our roads. At the moment it seems we have allowed our motorcyclists to believe in a culture of speed, aggression and overtakes and to use our country roads for their own pleasure and recreation. That attitude must be kerbed.

    R.Craven Blackpool
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    I can’t imagine why BRAKE think increased traffic is the problem. The normal consequence of traffic is slower speeds. It would be interesting to see their rationale (and supporting evidence) – perhaps BRAKE thinks faster is safer?

    Charles, England
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    Taking away some of the road-space-for-all by re-allocating it as dedicated cycle lanes does not help to reduce motorcyclist casualties.

    Guzzi, Newport
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    Most of us should and are concerned about rising motorcycle casualty statistics. However I don’t think the increasing traffic volumes have any bearing on motorcycle collisions in rural Wales.

    By the way, contrary to England, Wales as a nation already do have ambitious casualty reduction targets. Wales have the will to make it happen but evidently something else is needed – new solutions and that is not just something that can just be switched on with money. If anyone has some specific good ideas, feel free to share them with us all.

    Pat, Wales
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