Thursday 9th May 2013 – 9.30am – John Hawker.
The beginning of Spring means many things to many people. For some, it means the start of the cricket season; for others it’s time to set up the BBQ or the chance to take country walks in good weather or going away in their caravan for long weekends. For motorcycle riders, it means finally being able to get back out on the roads and enjoy what is, for many more of a lifestyle than a hobby.
The return of motorcycle friendly weather brings with it a renewed emphasis on keeping all riders safe and healthy; whether that is bikers riding sports bikes, cruisers, mopeds, scooters, or quad bikes. A number of people, including our own motorcycle paramedics, use motorcycles as a part of their job and their daily life is on two wheels as opposed to the usual four.
West Midlands Ambulance Service is reminding motorcycle riders of the importance of using proper safety equipment and clothing. These along with common sense, can make the difference between a pleasant riding season and a serious accident with life changing consequences.
In 2011, 362 people were killed in motorcycle crashes in the UK, with a further 5200 suffering serious injuries. One in five people killed on our roads is a motorcyclist and on average, in the West Midlands between March and October every year, around 240 motorcycle accidents occur every month, that’s around eight every single day.
Motorcycle Paramedic, Mark Hayes, said: “A significant number of motorcycle crashes result in fatalities or serious injuries. It is important for motorcyclists as well as other motorists to understand their role in the safety of all road users.
“For motorcyclists, a good set of leathers and safety helmet go a long way to minimising injury. Secondly, it is really important for people to concentrate on arriving at their destination safely, rather than as quickly as possible. Preventing the accident is the ideal as opposed to relying on safety equipment to save lives.
“I think I speak for all riders by saying that the thing we want most from our ride is to return safely, in one piece. The last thing your family wants is a policeman delivering devastating news of a fatal accident. Unfortunately, statistics show that on average, one family a day in the UK receives such terrible news.
“As an experienced rider and having dealt with many accidents involving riders, one of the causes of accidents is drivers failing to see the biker because they are more difficult to spot than a car. The common comment from car drivers involved in accidents with motorcyclists is that they never saw the motorcycle until they collided. Contrary to popular belief, motorcycle accidents are not always caused by errors on the part of the motorcyclist. However, motorcyclists have a responsibility to do their part and practice safe driving habits whether they are riding for pleasure or part of their job. All motorists, whether on two, three or four wheels are responsible for respecting the rights of all other drivers no matter the size or type of their vehicle.
“As well as good quality clothing and a helmet, the Trust would ask riders to consider using high visibility clothing, and ensure that the equipment they use is in good condition.
“A significant percentage of motorcycle accidents, particularly fatal motorcycle crashes, occur at relatively high speeds. Unfortunately, even a relatively low speed crash can lead to serious injury, especially if the rider is not wearing appropriate safety clothing. Traumatic brain injuries lead to serious, lifelong consequences for riders and their loved ones. Riding at high speeds only heightens the risk that a crash will lead to serious injury or death.
“Proper motorcycle gear includes more than just a helmet that meets the high protection standard. In addition, motorcyclists are encouraged to wear closed-toe footwear, preferably over-the-ankle motorcycle boots. Riders should wear leather or Kevlar clothing, as well as leather or a Kevlar long sleeve jacket. Also full leather gloves help reduce injuries.
Mark, who has been riding for 20 years, added “By getting good training in road craft and safety, as well as using quality safety equipment you will improve your chances of avoiding an accident or at least surviving one. You can help make this riding season a success and look forward to many more to come.”
Notes to editors
With this press release there are a number of sound clips of interviews with motorcycle paramedic Mark Hayes, photographs of motorcycle crashes the Trust has attended and also a picture of Mark with his work motorcycle and personal bike.