The number of bikers killed or seriously injured on North East roads in the last five years has risen by 8%.
Despite a fall of 30% in all biker casualties, the number of bikers who have lost their lives or been seriously injured has increased.
Campaign group Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) has been joined by emergency services from across the region in releasing the latest accident figures relating to motorbike collisions, and in urging all motorists to look out for each other.
As the weather improves and Easter approaches, more bikers are likely to be out on the roads, leading to an increased risk of casualties.
During the five-year period between 2014 and 2018, 2,039 motorcyclists were injured or killed on the region’s roads. Of those, 780 were seriously injured and 45 were killed.
“Motorcyclists account for less than 1% of miles travelled in the North East, yet they account for 18% of people killed or seriously injured,” said Paul Watson, Chairman of RSGB NE.
“We are pleased that the number of overall biker casualties has fallen over the last five years, but we are not complacent, and the figures are way off where we want them to be. The number of bikers killed or seriously injured has actually risen.
“However, just because a high percentage of casualties are bikers, it does not mean that bikers themselves are always at fault. It could be that drivers haven’t seen them at junctions or when overtaking, so we urge motorists to be vigilant.
“Bikers are much more vulnerable to serious injury and nobody wants that on their conscience.”
Paul urged drivers to take an extra look for bikers before pulling out and said bikers should take regular breaks, watch out for slow-moving vehicles on rural roads, and avoid overtaking on bends.
Ruth Thompson, Casualty Reduction Coordinator for Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, said: “Whilst seeing an overall reduction in motorcyclist casualties is encouraging, we are concerned by the increase in bikers being seriously or fatally injured across the region and know we cannot become complacent.
“They are extremely vulnerable and we would encourage them to make their own safety a priority when considering riding behaviour and the wearing of protective clothing. However, we would also urge drivers to understand the part they play in looking out for bikers, who aren’t afforded the protection of a vehicle compartment and air bags.”
Steve Johnson, Area Manager, Protection and Prevention, of Cleveland Fire Brigade, said it was committed to supporting Cleveland Road Safety Partnership in ensuring roads were a safer place for everyone.
He said: “Two-wheeled riders are more likely to lose their life, or sustain more severe injuries, if they are involved in a collision, as they don’t have the protection of a passenger compartment. We all use the roads and need to stay focused, ensure we can be seen, and look out for each other.”
The latest figures showed that failing to look properly, by either the biker or another driver, was a factor in 36% of motorcyclist road collisions, while the biker losing control of their machine contributed to 11% of motorcyclist casualties.
Just over half of all motorcycle casualties in the region were on bikes with an engine size under 500cc and were travelling on urban roads at the time of the crash.
However, when looking at those bikers killed, 73% were on bikes over 500cc and 51% of the fatalities and serious injuries happened on country roads.
County Durham and Northumberland saw the highest numbers of motorcyclist casualties during the last five years, however, given the size and nature of the roads in these two authorities, it is to be expected. South Tyneside recorded the highest casualty rate in the region, when comparing casualty figures to the number of biker miles ridden.