The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) is running a week of action focussing on motorcycling, and it's being supported by Sussex and Surrey Roads Policing Units (RPU), Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) and DriveSmart in Surrey.
Nationally, a disproportionate number of motorcyclists die on the roads, and the same is true on the roads of Sussex and Surrey. On average, they make up 1% of the road user population, but count for 20% of collisions.
There are various reasons for the high casualty level: bikes are a smaller presence on the road so frequently don't get seen by other road users; occasionally riders will try a manoeuvre that goes wrong; sometimes, some drivers do not consider the rider involved, only just how much damage the bike can do to their vehicle. But one of the main reason for the injury rate is because riders do not have a metal cage to protect them, unlike drivers. This must be taken into consideration when negotiating road space with a bike, because they do need more looking after.
Whilst there is no quick and easy fix to this, we are looking at both rider and driver to see how we can reduce this level of casualty and collision to keep riders safer for longer.
Partners at East and West Sussex Fire and Rescue Services offer free Biker Down courses to all riders, which focuses on what to do if you discover or are involved in a collision. This three hour workshop covers how to be seen on the roads, initial scene management at a bike collision, and risk assessments. There is also an in-depth First Aid element, which includes helmet removal.
There is also a BikeSafe course on offer from partners at the Sussex and Surrey Roads Policing Unit. This course (costing £50) aims to bridge the gap between everyday riding and advanced training (from RoSPA, the IAM and DSA etc). BikeSafe involves a classroom element, looking at hazard awareness, collisions causation and filtering, and a rideout after lunch, which assesses the rider's skills. This course is a whole day, and is available only to those with a full licence.
Chief Inspector Warren Franklin, from the joint RPU team said, “While we try to give motorcyclists all the tools they may need to stay safe when riding, there will still be some riders we cannot reach. We are asking these road users to consider their own lives before attempting a dangerous manoeuvre: it is never anyone's intention to come back from a ride in an ambulance, but we see it happen all too often. You are never too good to be a better rider.”
CI Franklin continued, “However, it's not just about the riders. In the same way that drivers have a responsibility to look after pedestrians and cyclists, they also need to take motorcyclists into account. We are asking drivers to look out for bikers, to take longer at junctions, and to really consider the fact it's a person on that bike, not just an inconvenience to your journey. Your actions could save a life.
“Last year, there were 10 motorcyclist deaths in Sussex, out of 55 fatalities altogether. Let's bring this down this year and get more people home safely.”