NI Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012

12th April 2012

Right To Ride has published the “Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012” an indepth study of 39 cases relating to motorcycle fatalities in Northern Ireland (UK) between 2004 and 2010.

The study, supported by the British Motorcyclists Federation Foundation, was carried out by Dr Elaine Hardy of Right To Ride with the collaboration of Dr Emerson Callender and Damian Coll of the Road Traffic Collision Investigation Team, Forensic Science Northern Ireland and Dr Richard Frampton of the Transport Safety Research Centre, Loughborough University, England (UK).

The “Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012” contains an analysis of 39 collisions investigated and includes information relating to vehicle data, the collision scene and the environment as well as human factors.

Overall, 41 motorcyclists were fatality injured, equal to 36% of total motorcycle fatalities during 2004 and 2010 in Northern Ireland.


The evidence provided in this report indicates that each road traffic collision is unique but that in all cases the time frame from the perceived hazard to the conclusion of the impact either with another vehicle or with road infrastructure was typically between 2 and 3 seconds.

In 63.4% of cases, (n.26/n.41) motorcyclists applied their brakes prior to the collision and n.18 (43.9%) applied their brakes severely. Of the n.17 (41.4%) motorcycles that slid after falling, n.10 (24.4%) fell onto their right side and the remaining n.7 (17.1%) fell onto their left side.

There were two cases identified where Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS) may have made a difference to the outcome of the collision, both were on a straight section of road.


Of the 39 cases analysed, there were 17 cases (43.6%) in which another vehicle was considered the primary cause of the collision. In thirteen of these cases (76.5%), the evidence highlighted that the motorcycle’s lights were switched on and therefore the other vehicle driver was in a position to see them.

However, there appears to be a problem of looking but not seeing which may be due to the size of the motorcycle or simply because the car/van driver is expecting to see another car or van and has difficulty coping with the unexpected.

There were four cases (10.3%) of speeding, but in all cases, the actions of the other vehicle driver precipitated the collision. Equally there were four known cases (10.3%) in which the rider had levels of alcohol over the legal limit and or drugs in their blood.

Three of these collisions were single vehicle (no other vehicle involved) and the fourth ran a red light through an intersection with no headlights on and impacted a car crossing the intersection.

There were 9 cases (23%) in which the motorcyclists involved in a collision were either riding in a group or with another motorcyclist. In all these cases the total number of motorcyclists killed was n.11/n.41 (26.8%).

Focus Group

A focus group of trainers, a collision investigator, police and government agency representatives discussed the relevance of technology on vehicles as a deterrent to collisions as well as the advantages of teaching hazard perception and anticipation in initial and advanced training as a defence against potential collisions.

The consensus was that while technology may in some cases be beneficial, good training was more important.

However, the availability, image and cost of advanced training seemed to be a barrier to getting more riders involved.

Emphasis is needed in car driver training to include more focus on scanning for VRUs (Vulnerable Road Users).

According to the participants of the focus group, the best solution to avoid road traffic collisions is anticipation and hazard awareness.

The consensus was that the only reliable way to prevent motorcyclist injuries and deaths is to prevent the collision in the first place, which means the rider needs to get his/her eyes up and scanning ahead, taking evasive action when a potential collision is still several seconds from happening.

“Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012” – pdf 1.1mb – Click Here

Presenting At Stormont

On Monday the 11th June 2012 Michelle McIlveen MLA hosted a presentation of the Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012 at Stormont’s Parliament Buildings.

Following the presentation a discussion took place amongst civil servants and riders to better understand accident causation and possible solutions.

Attending was the BMF (British Motorcyclists Federation) Northern Ireland director Howard Anderson; Chairman from MAG Ireland and Trainer Marc O’Loideion; Representatives from the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG); Chairman of the Approved Motorcycle Instructors Association NI, Victor Rodgers;  Road Traffic Collision investigator Damian Coll as well as representatives from the DOE Road Safety, DRD Roads Service, DVA and others.

It was a really good day at Stormont with those that mattered.

Our thanks to MLA Michelle McIlveen, who has always showed an active interest in motorcycling issues and has been supportive of Right To Ride’s initiatives – for hosting the event and thanks to her fellow DUP MLA’s, Brenda Hale and Ian McCrea for attending.

Read more

BMF Magazine

In the 2012 Summer edition of the BMF (British Motorcyclists Federation) members’ magazine – Motorcycle Rider,  Right To Ride is featured in a full page article.

The article concentrates on Right To Ride Elaine Hardy’s in-depth study of 41 motorcycle fatalities in Northern Ireland – “Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012″ – in collaboration with investigators from Forensic Science Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Road Traffic Collision Investigation team.

The study was supported by the British Motorcyclists Foundation.

Right To Rides Elaine Hardy will be in Germany in September and October 2012 to present the findings of the report to international road safety experts. The presentations will be at the 5th International ESAR (Expert Symposium on Accident Research) Conference in Hannover and the IFZ (Institut für Zweiradsicherheit e.V.) 9th International Motorcycle Conference in Cologne.

The IFZ conference will take place prior to the International Motorcycle, Scooter and Bicycle Fair INTERMOT

For the Article – pdf 87kb – Click Here

Conference Calls

On the 7th September 2012 Right To Ride’s Elaine Hardy present her findings in Hannover, Germany at the ESAR International Conference “Expert Symposium on Accident Research”.

The fifth ESAR International Conference was held over two days and brought together representatives from authorities, medical and technical institutions to discuss new research issues and exchange experiences on accident prevention and the complex methodologies of accident reconstruction.

On October 1st 2012 Elaine made a further presentation at the International Motorcycle Safety Conference (ifz) in Cologne, Germany.

The ninth ifz, International Motorcycle Safety Conference, was held under the headline ‘Safety – Environment – Future’ and covered all aspects related to motorized two wheelers.

The conference gathered scientists, researchers and practitioners to provide the opportunity to discuss the complex aspects of active safety work for two wheelers with contributions from specialists from all over the world.

For Further Information Contact

Dr Elaine Hardy

Director of Research

Right To Ride Ltd

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  1. Interesting stats, although I wish the statistics were reading zero fatalities, I agree with the anticipation and awareness to focus ahead for us riders, but as important is for the 43.6% of other vehicles that were considered the primary cause of the collision to do the same, advanced training for all road users would be the ideal situation.
    Again in an ideal world, if every new learner driver of any vehicle were made to do a motorcycle test, I personally feel that this 43.6% percentage would be much less.
    Advanced training is one way of improving our abilities to anticipate hazards.
    A section about cyclists/motorcyclists to be included in all speed awareness courses, of which there are three courses in existence here in N.Ireland, two of which I have been informed will be doing a section about the hazards cyclists/motorcyclists face every day (and hopefully this has been implemented now) the other which is speed awareness, which will implement a section within the next six months.
    I would be interested to know out of the 43.6% of people that were the primary cause of the accidents, what the age of these people were, in my experience and in the last 2 months, out of four near collisions I avoided through anticipation 3 where of the older generation whom I feel shouldn’t even be driving.

  2. Interesting reading indeed, in particular the second paragraph of Focus Group, ANTICIPATION AND HAZARD AWARENESS, the rider OR driver needs to get his/her EYES up and scanning ahead.
    My point is , when you are constantly watching your clocks or dashboard to monitor your speed, (so psni/taxman cant sting you with another stealth tax) WHERE ARE YOUR EYES, not on the road where they should be.
    As we all know it only takes a split second for an inncident to occur, so keep your EYES ON THE ROAD.
    Finally in agreement with Brian of Downriders Mcc LOUD PIPES DO SAVE LIVES.

  3. Hi Brian,
    Just a couple of comments on your comments.
    The 43.6% also included 4 cases where the motorcyclist was speeding over the legal limit and in each case the rider was unable to stop in time. In one specific case the motorcyclists (there were 2) were travelling at a speed of >130 mph. Had they been travelling at 60 mph, they wouldn’t even have had to brake. It is dependent on a variety of factors. In some cases there is a strong argument that other vehicle (OV) drivers need to be taught to “see” vulnerable road users – one suggestion was to incorporate simulators in the test, because it’s unrealistic to expect that a motorcyclist or pedestrian will “pop out on command” while the student car driver is having a test.
    The age of OV drivers was varied. I understand that there are issues relating to age and I also understand that statistically, the older people are, the more likely they are to pull out, but in this study there was no evidence of one age group having a higher representation amongst the OV drivers of pulling out.
    Advanced training seems the best route, but there are a number of factors which seem to inhibit this, not least the “pipe and slippers” image that IAM and RoSPA instructors seem to have – and of course cost. In the end, the focus group recognised that motorcyclists need to be prepared – anticipate, look ahead.
    What the study aimed to do, what NOT to blame one group of road users, but simply identify the cause of the collisions. Whether this cause was linked to vehicle defects, drink, speed, lack of attention, risk or simply dumb luck.
    The study is what it is.
    For me, the most important message is the time from perception/reaction to impact – typically 2 seconds.

  4. At Right To Ride and over at we have supported Advanced training which “seems to be the best route” with the PSNI BikeSafe as a supposed first step.
    So whether it is, “the “pipe and slippers” image that IAM and RoSPA instructors seem to have – and of course cost.” that inhibit people taking IAM or RoSPA advanced tests the following doesn’t make good reading, on actual numbers, considering the amount of riders in Northern Ireland.
    In a recent question asked in the Northern Ireland Assembly by Samuel Gardiner (UUP – Upper Bann) asks about Advanced Driving tests: To ask the Minister of the Environment how many drivers have passed the Advanced Driving Test in each of the last three years; and how this figure, as a percentage, compares with other UK regions.
    In the ministers reply he gives a reply which includes statistics from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) and which includes information regarding advanced motorcycling.
    The statistics provided by the IAM and RoSPA indicate that over the three years in question 20,484 drivers passed the advanced driving test in Britain compared with 646 in NI while for motorcyclists 6,551 riders passed the advanced test in Britain and 121 in NI.
    The numbers of advanced tests taken with the IAM and RoSPA in this period totalled, for cars, 22,126 in Britain and 655 in NI, and, for motorcycles, 7,346 in Britain and 124 in NI.
    For car tests, the figures for both Britain and NI represented 0.4% of the numbers of ordinary practical driving tests taken by motorists in the same period, while advanced motorcycle tests represented 3.3% of the number of ordinary motorcycle tests taken in Britain and 2.1% of the number taken in NI.
    Source: NI Assembly

  5. Right To Right Motorcycle fatality report reported at GEM Road Safety Charity.
    Click Here

  6. Those that look, but do not see, also those that look but choose to ignore, their thought, it’s going to hurt you more than me, bus drivers and ‘luxury’ car drivers seem most prone to this.
    Having once had the advantage of lights on, new cars now have DRL’s, so that doesn’t help, cyclists can have strobing white lights to help them stand out, we can’t (I’ve tried them and it makes a difference, but PC plod stopped me) on a motorcycle.
    Next step for me, in addition to high-viz, is body worn strobes, not fitted or mounted on the bike, so legal as far as I can see! It won’t make any difference to those who look but ignore, but every little helps…
    The video footage I record every trip proves I don’t speed and what others are doing, it can help after the fact, but rider awareness is crucial all the time.
    And yes loud pipes make a difference in town, pedestrians and cyclists with or without ear/head phones rarely look when I’m on a quiet bike, with barely legal pipes they are aware of me, horses also seem to be less spooked when they can hear you coming!

  7. I trained with IAM and passed the advanced motorcycle test in 2011.
    Then went on to train as an observer so I could pass on my skills to other bikers.
    I can think of at least 2 occasions where my training saved me from an accident.
    1 involved a car driver pulling out of a junction in front of me and 1 a biker overtaking on a bend.
    In both cases my road position and awareness saved me. There are probably countless other situations where my road positioning made me more visible so averting a collision situation.
    I think training is key for bikers whether with IAM, ROSPA, or Bikesafe, Training cant be gauranteed to save you, having a collision but it definately will reduce the odds.

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