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IAM report on bike crashes tells us nothing new

It’s a bit difficult presenting bike accidents with a new spin. Impossible perhaps. Particularly when nothing much changes in the world of falling riders.

So it’s no big surprise that the study published by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) to coincide with the NEC Bike Show doesn’t really throw any fresh light on the problem.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research, said:

“The fact that most crashes happen in good conditions may come as a surprise, but is due to the fact that many riders simply avoid riding in bad weather or in the dark. The message is clear – even if the conditions seem good for riding, accidents can still happen.“Sundays are the most dangerous day of the week, with 20% more accidents happening than on any other day of the week. Sundays have mostly leisure riders on the roads, who travel much longer distances than the average weekday rider.”

I’m not really sure who that would be news to. Ten years ago, I wrote this on my www.survivalskills.co.uk website after seeing the 1998 DETR report:

“The average daily casualty count was higher during the week than at the weekend, with Fridays having the most casualties in 1998. However, the proportion of casualties killed or seriously injured was higher at the weekend, at 32% compared with 24% during the week.

There is a marked difference between the proportion of motorcyclist casualties injured during summer and winter, whilst there is much less seasonal variation in all road user casualties. The highest percentage of casualties occurred in August for motorcyclists and in November for all road users.”

SO nothing much has changed there then.

The press release is all a bit vague. Whilst claiming older riders are safer, the statement doesn’t actually produce any evidence that post-test training cuts accidents, even though the conclusion drawn by Mr Greig is:

“Safe riders are made, not born. Courses such as those led by the IAM expose them to experienced riders who can show them where the risks lie.”

It’s quite possible that the older riders simply got safer by falling off and surviving when they were younger! That’s the way I learned.

And the conclusion that younger riders are most at risk is probably skewed by the unqualified moped and 125 riders who are overrepresented in casualty figures, something that doesn’t get a mention.

Evidence from elsewhere points up that the risk factor isn’t simply age, it’s experience in terms of time riding, and experience on a particular machine – even experienced riders tend to crash bikes new to them.

One thing that is worth flagging up is that 50% of the fatalities occured when the rider left the road and hit a roadside obstacle – so how much real use is body armour?

As I’ve said before, it’s really only designed to cushion the impact of falling from the height of the bike (and a bit for highsides) to ground level, not absorbing the energy generated by the weight of your body stopping suddenly against a tree.

The IAM press release can be found here.

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