Motorcyclists have a screw loose. It’s a popular belief, widely shared, that motorbike riders are poor drivers with a reckless disregard for the safety of others, themselves and the law. Footage of riders careening wildly through traffic, performing a terrifying succession of wheelies, burnouts and stoppies have filled any number of reality TV documentaries and are everywhere on YouTube. Hollywood too has played a part. Anyone who has ever tipped up to one of the many excellent movies featuring motorbikes does so in the certain knowledge that they are in for a hell of a ride, the clue is usually in the title – The Wild Ones, Faster, Mad Max, Hells Angels On Wheels, Easy Rider, Choppertown: The Sinners… need I go on?
Hits and Myths
In fact – contrary to popular belief, the majority of bikers are excellent riders. Riding a motorbike is a great deal more dangerous than driving a car. The stats tell a grim story.
- Motorcyclists are 40 times more likely to be killed on the road than any other road user
- In 2012, just fewer than 60 motorbikes a day were involved in road accidents
But by and large, bikers are not to blame. Careless car drivers, not reckless bikers, are the number one cause of motorbike accidents in the UK. One of the UK’s largest motorbike insurers did a forensic analysis of around 1600 motorbike insurance claims over a three-month period in 2012. It revealed that 81% of all motorbike accidents processed had in fact been caused by other road users.
It’s a depressingly familiar story. A car pulls out of a junction without spotting the oncoming motorbike; the rider ends up on the tarmac. In 70% of reported incidents the driver simply didn’t see the motorbike, those that saw the bike misjudged its speed, or distance, or both. It’s a finding consistent with the official government figures compiled by the Department for Transport, which revealed of the 19,534 motorbike accidents recorded in 2010, no fewer than 13,051 occurred at junctions. That’s 35 riders killed or injured at road junctions, every day of the year. Many of these happened at ‘T’ junctions, although they can occur on any junction.
What are the other causes?
Junctions aside, most motorbike accidents happen when the motorbike is travelling forward, not on a bend. They account for 50% of all accidents. Poor weather can play a part. Failure to negotiate challenging driving conditions – heavy wind, rain, fog and ice – is a factor in 7.5% of all motorbike accidents. Motorcyclists are especially vulnerable when it comes to hazardous surfaces. Hazards that are negotiated effortlessly and often in ignorance on four wheels can be perilous or fatal on two. Motorcyclists are massively and disproportionately prone to accidents that result from oil and diesel spills, mud on the road, uneven road surfaces, or from debris blown on to the road. Damaging a motorbike in an accident can be infuriating, especially when it wasn’t the riders fault. When looking to appoint a personal injury solicitor look for one that will get your Motorbike fixed and provide you with a replacement one as quickly as possible once you are fit enough to ride again. In around a third of all road accidents, riders simply failed to account for things they could see but somehow failed to negotiate safely. It’s a long list, including;
- Traffic lights
- Parked trucks
- Roadside bushes
- Occasionally, the odd farm animal
In a number of these cases no other vehicle was involved, Riders aren’t perfect, and can crash all by themselves. The Department For Transport noted that 10.6% of motorbike crashes were a result of rider inattention while 11% of riders killed were over the drink drive limit. Rider inexperience is also significant, and was a factor in 8% of all accidents.
Know Your Bike
Overtaking a vehicle requires skill to judge speed and distance. It also accounts for 13% of all motorbike accidents. Many accidents occur because motorcyclists underestimate the time it will take to pass another road user and find themselves confronted by a oncoming traffic. Overtaking in slow-moving traffic carries a separate set of dangers. Many motorists simply aren’t expecting a bike to shoot past them and may manoeuvre between lanes obliviously. Dense traffic will quite often reduce a motorbikes visibility. An experienced personal injury solicitor can help claimants through the legal haze of the aftermath; practicalities, advising on value, and establishing liability.
… a word about bends. Failure to negotiate a bend safely is a factor in 12% of all accidents, with drivers typically going in too fast and then overshooting. Country roads cause more accidents than any other, because there is such inconsistency from bend to bend. Drivers seduced by a series of smooth and even bends are often thrown, literally, when the next one tightens up dramatically. Bikers unquestionably face great risks on Britain’s roads. They can increase safety by being aware of these common causes of accidents and taking steps to reduce the risks, or avoid them entirely. Bikers who suffer collisions on the road are entitled to claim compensation for personal injury. Remember, it’s important to choose solicitors with proven expertise in motorbike accident claims.
The Comprehensive Top 10 List
- Collisions with unobservant car drivers
- Accidents at junctions
- Collisions with roadside furniture
- Overtaking another vehicle
- Negotiating bends
- Lane splitting
- Drunk or under the influence of drugs
- Rider inattention
- Inexperienced riders
- Weather conditions