Fewer motorbike deaths highlight safety initiatives

We know motorbike riders are more at risk on our roads but it’s encouraging that fewer are losing their lives in accidents.

The latest figures from the Department for Transport reveal that 322 riders died in collisions with other vehicles in 2021. That is the fewest over the past 10 years, apart from 2020. That year most of us were enduring Covid lockdowns but 299 riders still died.

Deaths where only a motorcycle was involved took total rider fatalities to 341 last year but that’s still the lowest figure on record since 2012.

Looking at all motorbike casualties, no matter how serious the accident or injury, the total number recorded was 17,971. This is also the lowest for 10 years, again apart from 2020.

Like the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), we also believe there are several factors helping to reduce fatalities. They include motorbikes boasting more electronic rider aids, making them easier and safer to ride, and improved protective clothing technology.

For example, the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 now includes the suite of complex electronic aids that was previously only available on the range-topping XT model. And the latest Kawasaki Z650 and Ninja 650 gain traction control as standard.

Orwell director Rob Walters said: “The big one was ABS anti-lock brakes.

“It used to be a premium technology. Even small-capacity motorbikes have it now. The riders who often need it most are new and younger riders.”

LED lights have improved lighting and visability while traction control and selectable engine power modes, on large-capacity motorbikes, make riding in poor weather conditions safer.

Working towards taking your motorbike test is more challenging than it used to be and involves a lot more training now, even before you get on to the road (with Compulsory Basic Training). There was a time when it was possible to just buy a motorbike (up to 250cc before the 1983 125cc ruling) and ride off on L-plates.”

We take pride in working closely with Suffolk Rider Training in Ipswich, Suffolk Advanced Motorcyclists (SAM) and the police Safe Rider scheme to encourage riders to improve their skills and promote safe riding.

Rob said riders also had access to online advice and videos about safe riding.

“Protective gear is also so much better now, including helmet technology,” he explained. “Head injuries were probably a big killer.

“People now wear protective clothing, which can also be fashionable and smart casual. It means you can wear it when you arrive at your destination.”

The MCIA also suggests that drivers are increasingly more vigilant, looking out for vulnerable road-users, because there are more motorbikes, electric scooters and bicycles on the road.

That said, riders must never be complacent and common sense, riding safely and to the conditions are still key factors in avoiding becoming a casualty.