It has been estimated that there are now more than 1.3 million motorcycles on UK roads. The total of all reported motorcycle user casualties rose during 2011 by 8 per cent to 20,150, with a likely impact on motorbike accident claims, despite less than 1 per cent motorcycle traffic growth.
Between 2001 and 2011, motorcycle riders accounted for more than 360 deaths, a fifth of all road user fatalities, while the number of riders reported as seriously injured increased by 10 per cent to nearly 5,250 (Road Users Alliance).
According to the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) 2012, the highest percentage of serious accidents on Britain's road network occurred in the south east of England (20%) while the lowest was in the north east (3%). Another accident blackspot, accounting for 10% of all serious accidents, was the south west.
In 2013, research found that there was an increase in the number of collisions in the Devon area involving lower powered motorbikes. The rise in accidents was significant enough that Devon County Council began working with a number of local businesses to promote safety on rural roads with employees who travel by motorbike.
According to RoSPA studies,” more deaths occur on rural roads than on urban ones”. In 2010, of the 1,046 fatal accidents recorded on rural roads, 292 were motorcyclist deaths - over double the number of deaths in urban areas. According to figures from a different survey, in 2012 there were 191 incidents involving low powered motorcycles, a third of which were a result of either a failure to look properly or to judge another road user’s path or speed.
The Devon council produced a guide to highlight the most common causes of collisions between motorist and motorcyclists, especially during the commuter hours of 6am to 9am and between 4pm and 6pm.
The most well known cause of a collision is, invariably, a result of driver failing to carefully check the road in all directions and committing an error when pulling out too quickly from a junction into the motorcyclist’s right of way. Other key areas concern safe positioning in the road, overtaking, safe distances and driving on slippery road surfaces.
In addition, motorcyclists are advised to help reduce the risk of accident or fatality by specifically “looking out for junctions” where vehicles may emerge in front of them, trying not to “ride in the gutter” and “checking behind them” and when “moving away on the approach to junctions.”
It’s been suggested that in the present economic climate, more people will take to two-wheel commuting, especially low powered bikes as they are more economical to use and fuel costs are lower. The need for increased safety awareness by motorists is just as urgent a priority in other accident blackspot regions as the authorities found in the Devon area.