Biker deaths on the decline | Industry experts respond to falling fatalities amongst UK motorcyclists

Motorcycle industry experts have expressed their delight at the declining number of road deaths amongst bikers, with the latest government figures suggesting a drop of 12% between 2022 and 2023.

The figure represented the largest decrease of the four main road user types (car occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and pedal cyclists) with fatalities dropping from 350 to 306 between the two years.

“It’s nice to see the figures going down across the board,” Director of Policy and Standards at road safety organisation IAM RoadSmart, Nicholas Lyes told MCN. “I wouldn’t say that the overall figure is particularly anything to celebrate, because it’s a very marginal reduction but any reduction is welcome.”

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“It’s much more pleasing to see fewer fatalities on the roads when it comes to motorcyclists, simply because they are… probably one of the most vulnerable road users we have,” he continued.

The Department for Transport (DfT) published the findings on May 30 and are said to show an estimate of the number of “personal injury road traffic casualties in Great Britain that were reported by the police in 2023 using the STATS19 reporting system.”

STATS19 is a database of all road traffic accidents that resulted in personal injury, which were reported to the police within 30 days of the incident.

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The finalised data for 2023 is scheduled to arrive in September 2024, with the current estimates available also showing a decline in overall reported road casualties amongst bikers – dropping from 16,943 to 16,756 across the period.

The DfT were unable to answer any questions about the reasons for a decline, with parliament now dissolved ahead of a general election.

“I think that it’s probably quite difficult to establish what are the reasons behind that [decline],” Lyes continued. “It could almost be something quite superficial – in the sense that it could be weather related.

Car driver looks at motorcyclist at junction

“I don’t think we can discount either the highway code changes that came in [in 2022]. So, maybe other road users are being more careful when it comes to motorcyclists.”

The IAM representative further stated that the uptake of their advanced riding courses is also up, however would like to see more done across the board to bring the figures down further.

“We need to have a review on things like riding for work – that’s very important from a government perspective,” the spokesperson continued. “The Treasury should be looking at exempting PPE for motorcycles from VAT to help bring the costs down, to encourage people to buy the best equipment to keep them safe on the road, including things like air vests.”

Fallen Kawasaki motorcycle

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) were also positive about the findings, with CEO Tony Campbell stating statistics like these are vital during a general election period.

“It’s that sort of news that we need to deflect any concerns around encouraging the sector to grow and be part of that environmental solution in the future because there will be lots of people out there lining up to basically say ‘why do you want to encourage something that’s so dangerous?’” Campbell told MCN.

“It’s important for us from a lobbying perspective to be able to talk positively about the fact that road safety has improved,” he continued. “We saw a big improvement in Covid and I could also say that this further improvement is a bit more realistic.”