Thursday, 20 May 2010

Motorbikes Still Dangerous Despite Fewer Deaths

By Ben Aulakh

Motorcycle riders are still at increased risk of death and injury compared to users of other vehicles, according to new figures.

The Department for Transport’s (DfT) 2009 Annual Compendium of Motorcycling Statistics shows that motorcyclists account for nearly one in five of road deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s roads.

In 2009 alone more than 26, 000 motorcycle riders and passengers were injured in Great Britain; despite making up just one per cent of vehicle traffic they made up 19 per cent of fatalities and injuries on the roads.

The most powerful bikes are also the most likely to be involved in mishaps while riding with 70 per cent of fatalities occurring on machines larger than 500cc.

However the numbers of fatalities on bikes have been falling, DfT figures for the period between 1998 and 2009 show that the overall casualty rate (the number of motorcyclists killed or injured per 100 million kilometres travelled) fell by 23 per cent.

A spokesperson from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said, “Motorcyclist casualties rose during the first half of this decade, largely because the numbers also increased.

“However, over the last few years the number of motorcyclists killed and injured has been falling, in 2008 493 motorcyclists were killed, 16% fewer than the year before.”

Also 57 per cent of riders who had accidents on bikes of more than 500cc were between 30 and 49 years.

Among younger riders 40 per cent of accidents involving machines smaller than 50cc were ridden by under 16’s; 19 per cent of riders were aged 17 years.

They added, “The casualty rate has been falling, however, the number of motorcyclists killed every year is still higher than the average number in the late 1990s, and much more needs to be done."

Bikers are still the most vulnerable vehicle users on the road, due in part to the lack of protection a motorcycle offers its driver compared to a car.

To improve accident prevention RoSPA would like to see a statutory register of motorbike instructors to ensure the training available is improved.

The spokesperson added, “There are many accidents in which biker is using the road responsibly and safely, but is put at risk because a driver fails to do the same; drivers need to be aware of the characteristics, needs and vulnerability of motorcyclists.”

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