Fears number of motorcycle deaths could soar in summer

There are fears that the number of motorcycle deaths could soar over the summer as bikers return to the roads after the Covid-19 restrictions.
Fears number of motorcycle deaths could soar in summer
RSA chairwoman Liz O'Donnell and assistant Garda commissioner Paula Hilman at the launch of the Ease off the throttle campaign today. Picture: Keith Arkins
RSA chairwoman Liz O'Donnell and assistant Garda commissioner Paula Hilman at the launch of the Ease off the throttle campaign today. Picture: Keith Arkins

There are fears that the number of motorcycle deaths could soar over the summer as bikers return to the roads after the Covid-19 restrictions.

Already this year eight motorcyclists have died on Irish roads, compared to five over the same period last year.

The Road Safety Authority has warned that speed remains a factor in motorcyclist deaths.

An analysis by the RSA of data for 2013-2017 found that just over a third (34%) of motorcycle riders were exceeding a safe speed at the time of the collision.

It also emerged that 43% of the 450 motorcyclists surveyed by the RSA last year admitted to sometimes exceeding the speed limit on rural roads, and more than one in five (22%) broke the speed limit occasionally on residential roads.

The survey found that over one in ten (12%) had been involved in a road collision two years previously, while three in five (59%) had a near-miss over the same period.

Almost half of bikers who were involved in a road accident said they were injured, some seriously.

The RSA wants motorcyclists to “ease off the throttle” and to be extra cautious as the roads get busier following the lifting of Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The authority is also urging drivers to watch out for motorcyclists by checking their mirrors twice to make sure there is no motorcyclist in their 'blind spots'.

RSA chairwoman Liz O'Donnell said research consistently showed that excessive and inappropriate speeding was a contributory factor to motorcycle fatalities.

“While most motorcycle riders are aware of their vulnerability when biking and the majority are safety conscious, there is a worrying minority that takes unnecessary risks,” she said.

Following our examination of forensic investigation files of fatal collisions, motorcyclists, especially those aged between 25 and 34 on powerful machines, need to appreciate the risk they face and ease off the throttle.

The RSA wants motorcyclists to take time to become familiar with their bikes again before returning to the roads.

“If you have not ridden a motorcycle for a few months or are just taking it out on the road for the first time this summer, take time to check the roadworthiness of your bike and get used to using it on the road again,” said Ms O'Donnell.

Assistant Garda commissioner Paula Hilman said they were particularly concerned about motorcyclists at this time of year.

“The number of fatalities is already higher, and based on last year's experience, July and August stood out as the main months for collisions — almost one third (55) of collisions happened during these months,” she said.

Gardaí will be engaging with motorcyclists over the coming weeks to provide them with advice and hand out high-visibility vests.

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