Department of Transport figures for 2004 show 25,000 motorcyclists injured, falling to 20,150 in 2011. There is a positive, long term downward trend, which can also be reflected in motorcycle accident claims.
Serious motorcycle accident casualties did show a slight rise of 1 per cent in the 12 month period between the last quarter of 2011 and the last quarter of 2012, but this was still an improvement on the 8 per cent rise reported in the previous 12 month period 2010/11 when more than 5,240 motorcyclists were seriously injured on Britain’s roads.
Motorcyclist organisations believe that many incidents between motorists and motorcyclists are caused by differences in perception, and support for this view can be found in defendants' statements.
For example, it’s not uncommon for defendants to state that they “didn’t see” the motorbike coming or the motorcyclist was travelling too fast and “failed to give a signal in time”. But failing to look sufficiently in advance for a motorcyclist (rather than another car) must be weighed against a bike rider’s claim that they always try to quickly and safely carry out a basic manoeuvre, such as overtaking, even in the most difficult of road or traffic conditions.
When a vehicle suddenly changes lanes
If a motorist suddenly decides to change lanes during a slowdown or severe traffic restriction they can easily be unaware of a motorcyclist travelling alongside them. Motorcyclists are at high risk from a vehicle making a sharp manoeuvre out of their lane and round a half of all non-fatal and fatal injuries involve a fracture of the lower limbs with over a third below the knee.
Many motorcyclists will be watching out for motorists suddenly pulling out and try to take pre-emptive action by maintaining a reduced speed difference of no more than 10 mph between bike and vehicle to allow better reaction time should the need arise. When traffic flow in one lane does slow due to a restriction, bike riders are likely to move out of the adjacent lane to avoid car drivers swinging out unexpectedly.
When a bike rider wants to turn left or right
Not surprisingly, the most basic action of making a left or right turn on a motorcycle is still one of the main causes of serious or even fatal motorbike accidents on UK roads. Bike riders say the reason for this is because the motorist simply lacks a real understanding of the differences between driving and motorcycling and experiencing traffic conditions from a different perspective. As a result, a motorist may not anticipate and respond appropriately to the path a motorcyclist may take turning left or right.
Making a left turn is a sharper manoeuvre and less difficult for a bike rider to negotiate than turning right. However, the rider still has to manoeuvre in a wide arc away from the inside of the left hand lane. If the bike turns much wider than intended, the motorcyclist could enter a lane of traffic running towards the rider or be struck from behind.
On the right hand turn, a bike could leave the road entirely. Where there are no oncoming vehicles, at least there is a chance of recovering from going too wide, but if there are any oncoming cars, a head-on collision could easily take place.
When a rider goes into turn on a cambered road surface a greater lean angle at a particular speed is required. With a right turn, a bike cannot lean over quite as far as in a left turn without dragging some part of the motorcycle against the road surface.