Motorcycle ownership is rising. The most recent statistics for Western Australia show that as of last year there were 123,245 motorcycles registered in the state. That number has almost doubled in just over a decade (in 2007 there were 68,000 registered motorcycles in WA). In fact for every 100 people in WA, over 9 of them have a registered motorbike. So if you’re a motorbike rider you’re in increasingly good company. But you’re also at risk.
Despite many more motorbikes on the road, the state still suffers from a lack of safety awareness. Whether that’s on the part of the rider – with risky behaviour and speeding being a common cause of accidents – or on the part of other road users not watching out for motorcyclists, there are lessons to be learned by everyone that will help keep the roads safe.
In 2019, 27 people were killed in motorcycle accidents in Western Australia. But in January 2021 alone there were 7 motorcycle fatalities on WA roads. That’s one death every four days, just in this state.
And for every death, there are approximately 20 more accidents that result in a serious, life altering injury; and countless more resulting in less severe but still unpleasant injuries.
With more motorcycles on the road, there are many more accidents causing more injuries and deaths. And a lot of these should be preventable.
How do motorcycle accidents happen?
Motorcycle accidents are incredibly common, particularly when compared to other forms of transport. Despite motorcycles making up a relatively small percentage of passenger vehicles (5.7%), they account for up to 19% of all road deaths in Australia. Motorcyclists are thought to be 30 times more likely to be killed in a crash than car passengers
And the number is rising. As cars get safer, motorcycles retain the same level of danger, with heavier traffic flows creating greater risks on the road. From 2004-2009, the number of people killed or injured in car accidents decreased steadily. But the number of motorcyclist casualties increased from 247 to 427 each year over the same time period.
Increased road traffic or poor awareness of other road users can’t be blamed for all accidents. According to government research, nearly two thirds of all serious motorcycle crashes on regional and remote area roads involved only one vehicle.
News reports show how easy it is for a single mistake, or a brief loss of control to result in a life changing injury.
Motorcycles are vulnerable on the road and accidents can be caused just as fast and just as easily on a quiet street as in heavy city traffic, if the rider is not alert, aware and riding safely.
How can we increase motorcycle safety?
David Wright of MRAWA Org sums up the need for increasing safety awareness neatly:
“We are a community of motorcyclists, and we’re losing way too many of our people. What we need to do is get better at what we do, and ride better.”
He leads with four key points that can make a big difference.
- Ride to the conditions
This means conditions of the road, of the bike, of the weather and of the rider. Statistics show that half of motorcycle fatalities are contributed by “risky riding behaviour” – which is classed as being under the influence of drugs and alcohol, speeding or disobeying a traffic control law. Other, less “risky” factors such as being tired or distracted can also be dangerous. And of course having a poorly maintained bike or insufficient safety gear can cause or exacerbate accidents. So consider all your conditions before you ride – particularly if you’re covering a long distance. Ensure you’re prepared for slippery or dry roads, keep your bike maintained, wear suitable safety gear and don’t get on the bike if you’re not going to be alert.
- Control your speed
As touched on above, disobeying traffic laws are a risky behaviour that results in many accidents. Speeding is a common cause of serious injury or fatality, so make sure you not only stay below the speed limits but stay at a speed you are comfortable and in control at.
- Improve your skills
Two factors that contribute to a higher risk of crash and serious injury are riding without a license (Lin and Kraus, 2009) or riding an unfamiliar motorcycle (Brown et al., 2015). Learn from a professional school and develop all the skills to help you retain or regain control of your bike, and practice in a quiet, safe environment when riding a new or unfamiliar bike.
- Learn from your mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes and unfortunately when you’re on a motorbike those mistakes come with a serious degree of risk. So when you do make a mistake – such as losing control or experiencing a minor accident – try and focus on what you did wrong so you can be sure not to do it again. Each mistake you walk away from is a lucky miss – the next one could be fatal.
These are just a few tips to be aware of, but there are many more things you can learn to stay safe when riding your motorcycle. During Motorcycle Safety Week give yourself a refresher on the basics of motorcycle safety so you can enjoy many more rides to come.
Motorcycle safety week has been run annually by the MRAWA since 1984. It originally began with a focus of making other road users more aware of riders, but shifted in 2010 to promote rider safety both to motorcyclists and other road users. They have a series of events going on throughout the week to gather motorcyclists together, promote the number of motorcycle riders on WA streets and offer safety advice. More information on various events can be found on their website.
Accident Claims Lawyers
Safety should be your number one priority when riding a motorcycle. But if you do find yourself in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may be able to claim compensation.
Accident Claims Lawyers can help you recover medical costs, damages and loss of income caused by a motorcycle accident in Western Australia. Find out how to ensure you get the most from your claim by talking to one of our legal experts today. Contact us for a free initial consultation.