Following on from my post yesterday about the recording of the death of a Mexican motorcyclist with a helmetcam, I checked out the statistics on motorcycle deaths in Ireland, and had a stark reminder of how dangerous our roads are for folks on two wheels.
The Road Safety Authority publishes statistics on all sorts of things about Irish road activities, including deaths. In 2013 (the latest year that statistics are available as I write), 27 motorcyclists were killed in Ireland - this is 14.2% of the total number of people (190) killed on our roads in 2013. Motorcyclists account for only about 2% of road users. According to the RSA, motorcyclists are six times more likely to be killed on Irish roads than any other road user.
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International Journal of Motorcycle Studies (2012).
Just yesterday evening on my way home from work on my bicycle at about 5.15pm a large SUV pulled out a line of stand-still traffic into the bus lane just past the Merrion Gates on the Merrion Road. It is illegal for motorists to use the bus lane at this time, it is legal for cyclists to use the bus lane at all times. Despite the fact that I was wearing a bright yellow high-visibility jacket, the driver did not see me - but I saw him and stopped in the nick-of-time to avoid a collision. The SUV roared up the bus lane and I did not see it again. Another cyclist asked me if I was OK. Had I been travelling on my motorcycle I would have been moving a lot faster and could have been involved in a more serious incident. This SUV driver is an accident driving around South Dublin waiting to happen. Such incidents reminds us of our mortality and how easy our lives can be taken away by carelessness (5 pedal cyclists were killed on Irish roads in 2013).
Motorcyclists of all ages dies on our roads, not just young hot-heads burning rubber in a speed fueled death wish. Just last December I felt a shiver when I saw a report in the Irish Times of the death of 55 year old biker Seán Coleman in Cork - the same age as me.
Here are the Top Ten Safety Tips for motorcyclist from the RSA:
- Be vigilant. Look into the far, middle and near distance, and behind you, using your mirrors and checking over your shoulders, before changing position or turning.
- Keep your distance. In wet or icy conditions, always leave a bigger gap.
- Be seen. Make sure your position is correct. Use dipped headlights and wear high visibility clothing (such as a neon vest and ‘Sam Browne’ reflective belt).
- Avoid surprising others. Never do anything on the road that could cause another road user to slow down, brake or swerve or that could startle pedestrians.
- Think like other road users. Anticipate how they might react.
- Read the road. Ride to current road, weather and traffic conditions.
- Match your speed to the conditions. Never let others dictate your pace.
- Never ride your bike after consuming alcohol or drugs.
- Maintain your bike properly. Regularly check petrol, oil, water, damage, electrics and tyres.
- Take lessons from an experienced instructor. See every ride as a chance to improve your skills.