According to figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT), the number of motorcyclist casualties for the first three months of 2013 had dropped by a significant 27 per cent compared to the same period in 2012, and which could also be reflected in levels of motorbike accident compensation claims.
While the reduction is greater than the 23 per cent fall in the number of pedal cyclist casualties and the 7 per cent in all reported road casualties, whether fatal, serious or minor, most bike riders are unlikely to imagine that any significant change has recently taken place on Britain’s roads.
In fact, the DfT point to the “much colder mean temperatures in Q1 2013 than in Q1 2012” as likely exerting a strong influence upon the year-on-year decline in the numbers of motorcycle and pedal cycle casualties. There was simply fewer two wheel commuting during the second coldest spell on record.
In addition, provisional estimates indicate a decrease of more than 2 per cent in road traffic levels between the first quarters of 2012 and 2013.
So, should we expect to see a return to only a slightly improving trend in figures recorded over subsequent months? In 2012, for example, the number of fatalities and seriously injured riders both appear to have dropped, yet during the first three months the DfT figures showed that the number of motor bike riders killed and serious injured (KSI) actually rose by 5 per cent.
The DfT also reported that while the total was down by 14 per cent on the same period in 2011, in the year ending June 2012 there was an increase in fatalities and serious injuries of the most vulnerable road users, including motorcyclists.
One of the biggest causes of accidents still seems to be oil and diesel spills rather than excessive speeds or wet roads. In the North West of England more than 1,500 accidents caused by oil on the road have previously been recorded and have become as frequent now on rural roads as they are on urban carriageways.
As main road traffic congestion increases, commercial vehicles try to use alternative routes through narrow country lanes where oil/diesel spills are a particular hazard on sharp bends in the road.
However, it is the one in five of all motorcycle accidents, which is caused by an overtaking motorist who fails to see the motorbike rider approaching.
With DfT also reporting that there has been a 25 per cent increase in drink driving figures in 2012 and nearly 300 fatalities responsible for 17 per cent of all deaths reported, the motorcyclist is once again placed at an even higher risk of a catastrophic accident.