The number of bikers injured in road collisions during the last five years has seen a marked decrease – but biker fatalities are still a problem on North East roads.

With Easter almost upon us and spring weather approaching, more and more bikers are likely to take to the roads, which will lead to a higher risk of collisions and deaths.

According to recent figures, bikers are 55 times more likely to be killed in a road crash than car drivers.

Road Safety GB North East said between 2012 and 2016, 2,345 motorcyclists had been killed or injured in the region, with 780 being seriously injured and 52 killed.

The road safety group and police across the region are urging bikers to take it easy when out on the roads and are appealing for motorists to take a second look for bikes before pulling out of junctions or attempting to overtake.

Paul Watson, Chairman of Road Safety GB North East, said the majority of motorcyclist fatalities involved bikes over 500cc, and 71% occurred on urban roads, rather than in rural areas.

“While motorbikes account for less than 1% of total miles travelled in the North East, motorcyclists account for 19% of people seriously injured or killed on the roads, which is quite a startling figure,” said Paul.

“We are delighted to see that the number of motorcycle casualties across the region has decreased by 16% since 2012, but we are still seeing a high number of fatalities, and collision figures are way off where we would like them to be.

“Failing to look properly is a factor in many road collisions, and collisions involving motorbikes are no different. It may be that the biker hasn’t looked properly or is travelling too fast or not in accordance with the conditions or road. Sometimes they simply lose control of their bike.

“However, it could also be down to drivers failing to spot a motorbike when they are pulling out of a junction, or when they go to overtake.

“Bikers are more vulnerable to serious injury, so we urge everyone to take it easy, to drive or ride sensibly, and to look out for each other. It could save a life.”

Almost all motorcyclists, 97%, injured on the region’s roads since 2012 live in the region, and most people were injured on their home local authority’s roads, although the percentages for this range from 53% Gateshead residents injured on Gateshead roads up to 86% of Darlington residents injured on Darlington roads.

Inspector Darren Breslin, of Cleveland and Durham Special Operations Unit, said: “The figures in terms of motorcyclist casualties and fatalities speak for themselves, and particularly around bank holidays we need to raise awareness for other road users to take extra care and reinforce safety messages as there are more bikers present on the roads.

“There are precautions that need to be taken all year round, but figures show that bikers are more likely to be out on roads around bank holiday weekends. Drivers need to be aware so that extra care can be taken, particularly at junctions and when overtaking. Motorcyclists themselves also need to take extra care and drive appropriately for the road conditions. We want to prevent as many injuries as we possibly can.”

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

“Motorcyclists can take some sensible precautions to help avoid being seriously injured such as; wearing appropriate safety clothing and equipment, ensuring their skills and experience are current for the motorcycle they are riding and also that their vehicles are roadworthy and checked regularly. Motorcyclists can also take advantage of a number of courses and inputs, such as ‘cornering clinics’ and ‘biker down’ sessions, which are available locally.”

County Durham and Northumberland see the highest numbers of motorcyclist casualties. However, given the size and nature of the roads in these two authorities, this is to be expected.

When looking at the average number of motorcyclist casualties per million miles travelled by bikers in each local authority area, County Durham and Northumberland were both much closer to the regional average, while Newcastle saw the highest casualty rate in the region.

Total motorcyclist injuries by local authority and severity, 2012 to 2016

Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 22 168 305 495
Darlington 0 55 78 133
Gateshead 2 60 185 247
Hartlepool 2 69 153 224
Middlesbrough 5 49 33 87
Newcastle upon Tyne 4 52 145 201
North Tyneside 1 36 75 112
Northumberland 1 26 51 78
Redcar and Cleveland 3 34 85 122
South Tyneside 7 161 207 375
Stockton-on-Tees 4 44 157 205
Sunderland 1 26 39 66
Total 52 780 1,513 2,345

Estimated rate of motorcyclist injuries per million motorcycle miles, 2012 to 2016

Local Authority Fatal Serious Slight Total
County Durham 1.57 11.99 21.76 35.31
Darlington 0.31 8.13 15.95 24.40
Gateshead 0.72 9.30 25.93 35.95
Hartlepool 0.47 12.20 18.29 30.96
Middlesbrough 0.23 8.43 17.57 26.24
Newcastle upon Tyne 0.35 10.48 32.30 43.12
North Tyneside 0.83 9.15 32.64 42.62
Northumberland 0.59 13.62 17.51 31.73
Redcar and Cleveland 1.16 11.41 7.69 20.26
South Tyneside 1.03 11.72 29.31 42.07
Stockton-on-Tees 0.00 11.27 16.18 27.45
Sunderland 0.36 12.53 27.79 40.69
North East Average 0.75 11.28 21.90 33.93

Paul added: “We appreciate that a number of people love to get out on their bikes when the weather improves – it’s a much-loved pastime. We are not suggesting that people don’t ride their bikes, but we do want people to take it easy, to look for hazards, and to make sure they have the skills and experience required for riding the larger bikes.

“We also want drivers to look out for bikes and to consider them. Just failing to look once could be catastrophic.”

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