Those on two wheels 63 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than car drivers

News from Brake
Monday 19 November
 
  • New analysis by Brake, the road safety charity, for Road Safety Week, shows that those on two wheels face 63 times higher risk of being killed or seriously injured, per mile travelled, than car drivers. 
  • On average, a cyclist or motorcyclist is killed or seriously injured every hour, on British roads.
  • Two thirds of bike deaths occur on our rural roads, with the fatal crash risk facing bikes on rural roads at its highest since 2010.
  • Most drivers (52%) believe that bike riders are most vulnerable on urban roads, but rural roads pose three times the risk of a fatal crash to bike riders.
  • The analysis marks the start of Road Safety Week (19–25 November), sponsored by Devitt Insurance Services and Ford, which this year urges people, particularly drivers, to be ‘Bike Smart’ to raise awareness about the safety of those on two wheels.
  • Communities and organisations across the UK take part in Brake’s Road Safety Week – case studies and photo and filming opportunities are available.
Analysis by Brake, the road safety charity, has found that, on average, those on two wheels face 63 times higher risk of being killed or seriously injured on British roads, per mile travelled, than car drivers [1]. Bike riders’ safety is being highlighted as part of national Road Safety Week (19–25 November), coordinated annually by Brake with the 2018 theme ‘Bike Smart’. Brake is calling for drivers to be ‘Bike Smart’ by slowing down, taking care to look properly at junctions and doing the ‘Dutch reach’ to avoid car dooring [2].
 
Brake’s analysis has highlighted the vulnerability of those on two wheels, who, in comparison with car drivers, are 34 times more likely to be killed and 63 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured, per mile travelled, on British roads [3].
 
Cyclists and motorcyclists account for nearly 4 in 10 of all deaths and serious injuries on British roads, a total of 9,740 in 2017 or an average of one bike death or serious injury every hour. Bike deaths also make up more than a quarter of all British road deaths, with a total of 101 cyclist deaths and 349 motorcyclist deaths in 2017 [4].
 
Two-thirds (301) of bike deaths in 2017, an average of 25 a month, took place on rural roads [5] – the highest number of bike deaths on Britain’s rural roads for more than five years. Concerningly, the fatal crash risk facing bikes on rural roads – which accounts for miles travelled – is also at its highest since 2010 [6].
 
A survey of more than 1,000 drivers, commissioned by Brake for Road Safety Week, has found that the majority of drivers (52%) feel that bike riders are most vulnerable on urban roads [7].  Department for Transport statistics, however, show that rural roads pose more than three times the risk of a fatal crash for both cyclists and motorcyclists, compared with urban roads [8]. A survey of more than 2,000 motorcyclists by Road Safety Week sponsor Devitt Insurance Services, also found that 60% of motorcyclists surveyed felt vulnerable on urban roads, whereas only 14% said they felt vulnerable on rural roads [9].
 
The areas of the UK with the highest proportion of cyclist / motorcyclist deaths and serious injuries, in comparison with their area totals, are London (46%) and the South East (42%). Looking solely at cyclist / motorcyclist deaths, in comparison with the area totals, London (31%) and the East Midlands (27%) have the highest proportions [10]. Further detail is available in Table 1.
 
Table 1: Bike KSIs and deaths as a proportion of total KSIs and deaths, by area
‘KSIs’ refers to killed and seriously injured. ‘Total bikes’ refers to both cyclists and motorcyclists.
 

 

Highest as a % of area total

Highest as a % of area total (excl. LDN)

Lowest as a % of area total

Lowest as a % of area total (excl. N.I.)

KSIs:

Total bikes

London (46%)

South East (42%)

N. Ireland (18%)

Scotland (28%)

KSIs:

Cyclists

London (18%)

South East (17%)

N. Ireland (6%)

Scotland (10%)

KSIs:

Motorcyclists

London (28%)

South East (25%)

N. Ireland (12%)

Scotland (18%)

Deaths:

Total bikes

London (31%)

East Midlands (27%)

N. Ireland (17%)

East of England (21%)

Deaths:

Cyclists

North East (10%)

North East (10%)

South West (3%)

n/a

Deaths:

Motorcyclists

London (24%)

South West (23%)

North East (12%)

North East (12%)

Source: DfT (RAS30034, RAS30043).
 
The analysis has been published at the start of the UK’s biggest road safety event, Road Safety Week (19–25 November), coordinated by Brake. This year, thousands of organisations, schools and community groups are backing its ‘Bike Smart’ campaign, helping to raise awareness about the safety of those on two wheels.
 
Road Safety Week is calling for drivers to be ‘Bike Smart’ and be more aware of bikes by: slowing down, giving more time to spot danger and react; looking properly for bikes before pulling out at junctions; leaving at least 150cm between cars and a bike when overtaking; and by doing the ‘Dutch reach’, using the opposite hand to open a car door to help avoid ‘car dooring’ incidents.
 
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:
“Every hour, a cyclist or motorcyclist is killed or seriously injured on a British road – each a tragedy that will devastate innumerable lives. Raising awareness about the safety of those on two wheels, who face much higher risk of death and serious injury than those in cars, is absolutely vital. We support the Government’s announcement of a review of the Highway Code to help keep cyclists safe and its stated focus on motorcyclists in the forthcoming road safety action plan.
 
“Rural roads, with their high speeds, blind bends and few cycle routes, pose particular danger to those on two wheels, with the risk of a fatal rural road bike crash now at its highest since 2010. The Government’s announced focus on rural road user safety is welcome and we encourage the consideration of rural road speed and bike-safe infrastructure, such as segregated cycle lanes, in its plans.
 
“Road Safety Week is a vital loudspeaker for individuals, communities and organisations to shout about road safety and raise awareness of the risks on our roads. With one bike rider being killed or seriously injured every hour in Britain, there is no better time for us all to be more ‘Bike Smart’.”
 
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC lead for roads policing, said:
“Road Safety Week is always an important event in the police calendar and Brake’s timely ‘Bike Smart’ theme makes this year no exception. Raising awareness of the safety of those on two wheels is absolutely crucial and we will be ensuring that forces engage with partners throughout the week to both raise awareness of the dangers and enforce the law.”
 
Andy Barratt, chairman and managing director, Ford of Britain, Road Safety Week sponsor, said:
“Brake’s analysis provides an alarming insight into the vulnerability of those on two wheels. This Road Safety Week, we should take the time to consider how we as individuals behave on the roads and how that might affect others.” 
 
Tom Warsop, head of marketing, Devitt Insurance Services, Road Safety Week sponsor, said:
“Motorcycling is an enjoyable and sociable activity, which can help alleviate congestion on our roads, but it does come with the associated risk of being a vulnerable road user. Motorcyclists make up the largest proportion of road crash admissions to A&E, which is why we’re working with Brake for this year’s Road Safety Week to help to educate all road users to be Bike Smart and keep everyone on two wheels safe.”
 
Duncan Dollimore, head of campaigns at Cycling UK, said:
“In recent years progress on road safety for the most vulnerable road users has stagnated, so we welcome Brake’s decision to focus on the safety of those on two wheels during road safety week. But we need road safety to be a key priority for Governments across the UK every day of the year, not just in November, and would echo Brake’s call for consideration of rural speed limits and safer infrastructure for cyclists.”
 
Brake volunteers:
 
Ben Frank and Johanna Jones, husband and sister to Louise Frank
On 3 October 2017, husband and wife, Ben and Louise Frank, decided to go for a ride before setting off to visit family in Oxford. After turning a corner, Ben was waiting for Louise to catch up when he heard an impact and turned back. Despite wearing high-visibility clothing and a helmet, Louise had been hit from behind while she waited to turn right on a country road. Paramedics placed her into an induced coma at the roadside and she was airlifted to hospital, where she later died.
 
Ben and Johanna said: “The pain of losing Louise in a bike crash is terrible. We don’t want anyone else to lose their life or their family to suffer the terrible pain we have. The safety of cyclists can be improved by drivers being more aware of bikes and our roads having safer speeds with more bike-friendly design. We owe it to Louise’s memory to protect cyclists and so we are fully supporting this year’s Road Safety Week that is encouraging everyone to be ‘Bike Smart’.”
 
Catherine McMorrin, mother to Calum McMorrin
On 7 August 2016, Calum was riding his motorbike in Dumfries when he was hit by a driver performing a U-turn on a blind summit. Because the road was narrow, he had nowhere to swerve to avoid her and was killed instantly. The driver later admitted careless driving and received a community payback order alongside a temporary driving ban. This Road Safety Week, she is asking all drivers to be totally aware of other traffic and to double-check their mirrors before making any manoeuvre. She is also calling for greater understanding of the ripple effect that a bereavement can have on a family.
 
/Ends
 
Notes to editors:
 
Further details about Road Safety Week can be found at www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk
 
[1] Throughout this press release, the terms “bike” refers to both bicycles and motorcycles and “those on two wheels” refers to both cyclists and motorcyclists. Rural roads in the UK are defined as major and minor roads outside urban areas, in an area that has a population of less than 10,000
 
[2] The ‘Dutch reach’ is a technique which seeks to avoid car dooring. Instead of using the hand nearest the door to open it, reach across with your opposite hand. This forces you to turn your head so you can check for bikes before you open the door.
 
[3] Reported casualty rates by road user type and severity: Great Britain, RAS30013, Department for Transport 2018.
  • Cyclists are 14 times more likely to be killed and 46 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured, whilst motorcyclists are 55 times more likely to be killed, and 81 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured.
[4] Reported road casualties by road user type and severity: Great Britain, RAS30001, Department for Transport, 2018.
 
  • Cyclists face the greatest risk of a fatal crash on rural A roads, at 6 times their average for all roads, and motorcyclists face the greatest risk of a fatal crash on rural B, C and unclassified roads, at just under 2 times their average for all roads.
 
[7] A survey of 1,107 drivers, conducted by SurveyGoo for Brake in October/November 2018. In response to the statement “I feel that cyclists and motorcyclists are most vulnerable on…?” 52% (576) stated urban roads, 37% (412) stated rural roads and 11% (119) stated motorways.
 
 
[9] A survey of 3,116 motorcyclists, conducted Devitt Insurance Services Ltd in October 2018. 2,777 responded to the question “In which of the following situations do you feel vulnerable riding your motorcycle?”, with 60% (1,667) stating urban roads, 14% (391) stating rural roads, 14% (378) stating motorways and 12% (341) stating none of the above. See further details of the survey, including a video, here: www.devittinsurance.com/keeping-riders-safe/
 
 
Road Safety Week
Road Safety Week is the UK’s flagship event to promote safer road use, coordinated annually by the charity Brake and involving thousands of schools, communities and organisations across the country. Road Safety Week 2018 takes place 19–25 November, with support from the Department for Transport and sponsors Devitt Insurance Services and Ford.
 
About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes.
 
Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week.
 
Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
 
Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook or The Brake Blog.
 
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Tags: road safety roads to justice cycling road safety week motorcycling road deaths cyclist vulnerable road users serious injury