Motorists are being urged to take a second look for motorbikes as it’s revealed that last year over half of all motorcycle casualties in the North East were either killed or seriously injured.

As spring begins (March 20) and the weather improves, more bikers are likely to be out on the roads in the coming weeks, leading to an increased risk of collisions involving bikers.

Last year, there were 329 biker collisions on the region’s roads, down from 337 the year before, but a substantial 53% resulted in riders either being killed or seriously injured (KSI).

While overall biker casualty figures have fallen during recent years, the percentages of those killed or seriously injured rises year on year.

Year Killed or seriously injured % Total number of biker casualties
2015 38% (186) 494
2016 42% (173) 414
2017 47% (170) 363
2018 48% (163) 337
2019 53% (176) 329

Campaign group Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) has been joined by emergency services from across the region to remind bikers to drive according to the conditions and within the speed limit.

Drivers are urged to take a second look for bikes before pulling out or overtaking – checking their blind spot every time.

Paul Watson, Chairman of RSGB NE, said there had been a fall in the total number of motorcyclist casualties across the region during the five-years between 2015 and 2019. During that time 1,936 motorcyclists were injured or killed on the region’s roads, with 819 seriously injured and 48 killed.

“We’re very pleased that the number of overall biker casualties has fallen, but we continue to be concerned that more than half of all bike collisions result in a rider either losing their life or being seriously injured,” said Paul.

“Less than 1% of vehicle miles travelled on the region’s roads are by bikers, but they account for 18% of those that are killed or seriously injured, so there is much more that we can do.

“Bikers are vulnerable, and we know that almost half of all motorbike collisions are caused by either the biker or the driver simply not looking properly. They can be avoided.

“Yes, we are urging bikers to ride sensibly and according to the road they are on, but drivers need to take a second look for bikes at junctions and before overtaking.”

Inspector Ian Leach, from Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Bikers are very vulnerable road users who are at considerably more risk of being involved in a serious or fatal collision than car drivers.

“Riders are reminded to wear high visibility garments and suitable protection equipment to increase their visible presence, and to adjust their riding to the conditions. Drivers must play their part, too: Use your mirrors regularly and use head checks to increase your all-round visibility.

“Most collisions are preventable so we fully support any campaign that will encourage our road users to be more aware and look out for each other.”

Motor Patrols Inspector Dean Hood, from Northumbria Police, said: “The safety of all road users, particularly vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, is something which we take extremely seriously.

“Both drivers and motorcyclists need to take responsibility and can take extra precautions to keep everyone safe.

“Motorcyclists can help avoid being seriously injured by wearing appropriate safety clothing and equipment and making sure their motorcycle is road worthy and checked regularly. Other drivers need to make sure they take extra time to check for motorcyclists before pulling away – that extra look can save a life.”

County Durham and Northumberland saw the highest numbers of motorcyclist casualties during the last five years. However, given the size and rural nature of the roads in these two counties, it is to be expected.

South Tyneside recorded the highest casualty rate in the region, when comparing casualty figures to the number of miles ridden by motorcyclists.

The failure to look properly was recorded as a factor in 47% of collisions, by either the biker or the driver, with a poor manoeuvre accounting for 24%.

Meanwhile, around 60% of collisions leading to the death or serious injury of a rider happen on rural roads and two thirds of all collisions happen in areas with 20, 30 or 40mph speed limits. And those aged 16 to 24 account for a third of casualties.

Total motorcyclist injuries by local authority and severity from 2015 to 2019 (inc)

Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 18 179 213 410
Darlington 0 36 33 69
Gateshead 3 47 117 167
Hartlepool 1 27 22 50
Middlesbrough 1 34 55 90
Newcastle upon Tyne 3 73 137 213
North Tyneside 1 43 96 140
Northumberland 9 159 137 305
Redcar and Cleveland 4 41 30 75
South Tyneside 3 45 81 129
Stockton-on-Tees 3 57 52 112
Sunderland 2 78 96 176
Total 48 819 1,069 1,936

Estimated rate of motorcyclist injuries per million motorcycle miles from 2015 to 2018 (inc)*

Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 0.3 2.6 3.1 5.9
Darlington 0.0 2.2 2.1 4.3
Gateshead 0.1 1.6 3.9 5.6
Hartlepool 0.1 2.4 2.0 4.4
Middlesbrough 0.0 1.4 2.3 3.8
Newcastle upon Tyne 0.1 2.3 4.3 6.7
North Tyneside 0.0 1.6 3.5 5.1
Northumberland 0.2 2.7 2.4 5.3
Redcar and Cleveland 0.2 2.0 1.5 3.7
South Tyneside 0.2 2.8 5.0 7.9
Stockton-on-Tees 0.1 2.2 2.0 4.4
Sunderland 0.1 2.6 3.2 5.8
Total 0.1 2.3 3.0 5.4