Motorcycle accident injuries in Wales have reached a seven-year high, according to police records.
In 2014 749 motorcyclists were killed, or seriously or slightly injured on Welsh roads. This figure includes 28 fatal motorcycle accidents – up from 17 in 2013.
The official Welsh government statistics also reveal that, out of all road users who were killed or seriously injured in Wales last year, 22% of them were motorcyclists.
Swansea and Powys had the highest number of motorcycle accidents involving death or injury, whilst Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Anglesey had the fewest.
Rural Wales and the Motorcycle Accident Risk
Also revealed by the statistics was how the rural areas of Wales carry a higher relative risk of motorcycle accidents.
What this means is that a higher proportion of motorcyclists were killed or injured in rural local authority areas compared to the number of casualties involving car occupants.
Road safety charity, Brake, has commented on the risk to motorcyclists in rural Wales and for a reduction in the default speed limit. As spokesperson Dave Nichols said, "Everyone who uses the road has a responsibility to look out for each other, whether a rider or driver, and make sure we slow down and keep well within the limits.
"Politicians can also play their part by lowering the default speed limit on country roads from 60 to 50mph, and even lower where there are particular risks.”
What Can the Welsh Government do to Help Vulnerable Motorcyclists?
Motorcyclists are among the most vulnerable road users. Last year, motorcyclists in Wales were 77 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured, per kilometre travelled, than car drivers.
Commenting on the statistics, Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Chris Davies, said, "Motorcyclists are not necessarily at fault for collisions, their vulnerability means that they are far more likely to be killed or seriously injured."
So, with this in mind, what are the Welsh government doing to help reduce the risk of motorcyclists being injured in an accident?
The Road Safety Framework for Wales sets out Welsh government safety targets until 2020, an important target being a 25% reduction in the number of people killed or injured in a motorcycle accident.
Early this year, the government awarded nearly £4million to 30 road safety improvement schemes in 14 local authority areas.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Welsh Transport and Science Minister Edwina Hart pledged Welsh government research funds to four innovative projects aimed at reducing the number of motorcycle casualties on Welsh roads. The projects – which include a junction alert system aimed at identifying when a motorcyclist is approaching – will each receive £15,000 until December this year to develop their proposal.
Of course, no matter what technological advances there may be in the future – or advances in environmental factors like road quality, speed limits and suchlike – all road users need to take personal responsibility for road safety, and drive sensibly and carefully within the limits of the prevailing conditions.
Nicholas Collins is a Principal Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Cardiff.
Slater and Gordon Road Traffic Accident Solicitors offer a free consultation to any motorcyclist injured in an accident through no fault of their own. Most of our motorcycle accident claims are funded via a Conditional Fee Agreement, more commonly known as a No Win, No Fee agreement. This means there is no financial risk to you.
For a free consultation about claiming compensation for a motorcycle accident injury, call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.