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How to Improve Motorcycle Accidents Statistics

How to improve motorcycle accidents statistics

How to Improve Motorcycle Accidents Statistics

There is a huge amount of data collected each year regarding motorcycle accidents statistics. But are they the real values and do they truly show the extent of the number of motorcycle accidents that actually happen? I think not!

Data is only as good as the data collection process. If the reporting or gathering of data is weak, the figures will never be true. If riders who have accidents do not report them, they will never be added to or show up on statistics.

What is an accident

An accident is an unplanned or unforeseen event that causes harm, damage, injury or loss of life, property or the environment. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone. 

The most common statistic that we see regularly is, ‘motorcyclists account for 1% of traffic but up to 25% of accidents in the UK’. This is an extremely alarming figure and one that collectively we must find a way to reduce. 

Figures only show up in certain circumstances and with logged data, that is when and if the accident is reported. This could be by the insurance company or the police who attend the accident.

Understanding the types of accident

Looking deeper into the statistics, most accidents are split into two categories. The first is the younger or inexperienced rider in an urban environment and usually involves another vehicle. Normally a car where the driver failed to see the motorcyclist. 

Junctions and roundabouts

This is mostly at junctions or roundabouts, where traffic merges or crosses another road user’s intended path. There are many things that can be done to reduce this type of rider’s risk, more vigorous training is the best option.

On the open road

The second category is in rural riding situations. This is where riders get into trouble where speed is a contributing factor, whilst cornering or overtaking on the open road. 

This second reason is a stark contrast to the incidents in towns and cities where the speed is very much slower. Higher speeds on faster flowing roads catch riders out. When a rider runs out of ability and rides off the road, it is classed as a single vehicle accident. This is because there was only one vehicle involved. It can only be recorded as, and put down to ‘rider error’. 

These startling figures can easily be reduced by further training and education. These strategies are discussed in detail in some of our other articles.

There are far more accidents

I made a comment once and I still stand by it, there are far more accidents happening each year than are recorded. So here are some facts on the matter and it makes for uncomfortable reading: 

We are told on average there are between 1 – 1.3 motorcycle rider deaths every day of the year on our roads. There are significant figures that show the KSI (Killed or Seriously Injured) are between 10-15 per day. 

20,000 incidents per year!

This is a staggering, on average 4,500 serious accidents per year where the result is life changing to a rider. Other figures show up to 20,000 reported accidents per year, which is more than 50 incidents per day! 

Now consider how many motorcyclists come off their bike and never report it? The volume of motorcycle accidents is far greater than first meets the eye. It’s a wonder there are not more serious injuries when you consider what clothing some riders wear.

More accidents are not even reported

Does damage have to occur to a person for it to become a statistic? Do the police need to be involved? Or was the insurance company informed? 

No is the answer to these few questions. So there are probably more than 50,000 incidents every year involving a motorcycle rider.

This figure is something in the region of 4,500 per month, rather than the initial reported figure stated earlier, that was around the same amount per year. If this is the case it is an horrendous amount of incidents and luck plays a huge part to get away without injury.

Many accidents are not reported

Many accidents are not reported. Someone falling off a bike when learning to ride, whether there is injury or not – is not reported. Also people who grab a handful of front brake inappropriately and fall off at junctions, are not reported. A rider who falls off when coming to a stop during an emergency stop is not reported. 

Or a new rider on the road using their brakes incorrectly, they skid the rear wheel when braking and come off – again it is not reported. The rider attempting a U-Turn and hits the kerb and falls off, is not reported. The list goes on and is endless!

There may only be superficial damage to the bike and the rider’s pride but these accidents do not get reported and therefore not added to final yearly statistics

Motorcycle Training Instructor and student


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Accidents on rural roads

Then there’s the riders on rural roads who come off during cornering and pick themselves out of the hedge with damage to the bike. They patch it up, ride home and fix it without informing anybody. 

All these undetected incidents and accidents on the road involving riders, are all hidden.

The figures are alarming

These figures are extremely alarming, we will only ever know the true amount of accidents per year if all accidents are reported. 

Of course, this will never happen. Even falling from your bike when losing your footing is regarded as an accident. It would be very easy to break your ankle in this situation and only then might it make the accident register where figures are collated. 

So, in my humble opinion there are probably ten times more accidents per year than are actually recorded. 

So, what’s wrong?

My answer is going to be unpopular and maybe raise quite a lot of resistance. But my opinion is based on 30 years experience in the motorcycle training sector. Training has generally been quite poor, people want to get it done quickly, or are rushed through the training to do their test. This is where a lot of the problems lie.

Archaic training models still used

As an industry we are still teaching people as if we were in the 1980’s on 125cc small powered motorcycles. In those days learner riders would complete a four or five day course on a 125cc if they had never ridden before. 

That would be like doing a CBT equivalent and just one motorcycle test on a small 125cc machine. If they passed their test on a small bike they could then ride any size bike without any restrictions.

Crazy training programmes

Guess what we are still doing? Yes, we still see this crazy training programme now. A four or five day course being sold to new riders who have never ridden before. Even though the CBT is more demanding, even though riders want to do the Direct Access Scheme and learn on a 600cc (plus) motorcycle. There are also two tests to complete, the Mod 1 and the Mod 2 motorcycle tests to be road legal. 

Yet some training schools still insist on selling an outdated archaic training plan from the 1980’s. This does not make them better trainers because they can train someone in this short space of time. It means they are copying what other inadequate trainers are doing just to compete for customers.

No wonder people have problems

No wonder so many people fail the motorcycle tests, they just aren’t ready! The accident rates are high, riders at the start of their learning process are not properly prepared for the demanding journey ahead. 

A lot of new riders go for the cheapest training school because they think that all training is equal. Well it isn’t and the fact that some are very much cheaper than others should tell a story. Do you want a Primark or an Apple service for your motorcycle training?

How to improve the problem 

One of the ways to solve the problem is to look at motorcycle training and guidance at the introductory level for new riders. We can’t change the past problems that have contributed to this huge issue. But we can collectively isolate why it has happened and start to fix it.

It is easier said than done though, there will be a lot of resistance to making changes but I think change is necessary. If the industry really wants to make a difference, they have to get to the bottom of WHY! 

Riding a motorcycle is not like going to war

Digging deeper and looking into the problems will highlight why inexperienced riders contribute highly to accident statistics.

Riding a motorcycle does not have to be likened to going to war. That thought is that there will be collateral damage because it is dangerous. 

The current mindset is that there will always be incidents because riders are more vulnerable and have a higher risk. With this attitude, riders will continue to kill themselves because that’s what happens, or it has always been like this and won’t change!

In fact, most riders think that luck plays a part in their riding! Guess what, it doesn’t.

Improve rider training

In my opinion, with a dedicated, joint and concerted effort, change is possible and novice riders will be at far less risk. 

How, you ask? With much better and thorough training, CBT’s have to stop being an attendance course. Far too many riders are issued with DL196 certificates and allowed to ride on the road when they are not ready. The standard in the past has been appalling, because for too long it has been viewed as an easy one day course.

Longer CBT Courses

Making the CBT course longer is one way to ensure riders have more time with the instructor before being allowed to ride unaccompanied. This would mean that new riders develop their skills for longer in the company of a trainer. 

At the moment, a two hour road is all some people get before they are allowed to ride unaccompanied. If this time was extended to six or seven hours, riders would be able to demonstrate that they can ride independently. 

At the moment a younger rider could be on the road without the care and attention that they really do need. 

Further education is required

After all, the youth of today are our future and we should be looking after them. 

Likewise riders with a full licence have to see training as part of their journey. People who play golf take lessons to improve their swing but riders who are weak think self education is the best way to improve.

Well it isn’t and this is definitely where luck does play a part. If you are serious about riding, a regular training plan to elevate your riding skills must be part of your yearly routine when getting back on the bike after winter.

It’s a common mistake and comment that Bikers often state, you are not a biker unless you’ve fallen off or had an accident. What a load of rubbish that is, it kind of excuses people for having poor riding skills. It’s time to take action and be in control of your own riding destiny.

Written by Simon Hayes

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