Sunday, 15 April 2012


RIGHT TO RIDE has today published the "Northern Ireland Motorcycle Fatality Report 2012", an in depth 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. (DC - My bold italics.)

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. 

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

Dr Elaine Hardy
Director of Research
Right To Ride Ltd
Australian Motorcycle Council (AMC)

AMCdelegates mailing list

It appears this report excludes the possibility of using virtual reality to train riders. Putting riders in a virtual world is a simple and cheap method of training riders (and drivers) by putting them in situations that occur infrequently when riding on the roads... but which create a high accident risk.

This was the basis of my submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Road Safety Committee inquiry into motorcycle & scooter safety in 2011.

Michael Czajka

Sunday, 15 April 2012 

Indepth Study of Motorcycle Fatalities in Northern Ireland 2012

When assessing this study from Northern Ireland the differences in climate/weather, road environment/conditions and traffic types/volumes/flow between Victoria and Northern Ireland show should be taken in to account. Too often this is ignored by government researchers seeking outcomes that seem logical to them as car drivers.

Northern Ireland covers 13,843 square kilometres. Victoria covers 237,629 square kilometres. Northern Ireland is on an island at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. Belfast is around 55 degrees north of the equator. Victoria is on the edge of a vast, dry, hot continent with roads that go forever. Victoria's capital city, Melbourne, is 38 degrees south of the equator. There are nearly 4 million Melbournians.

The population of Northern Ireland in 2010 was 1.799 million. The population of Victoria was 5,547,500. Victoria has the highest population density of any Australian state. Australians own 16.4 million road vehicles including road registered motorcycles & scooters. Victorians own 4.2 million road vehicles.

A good argument for encouraging traffic filtering for powered two-wheelers as road authorities do for pushbikes.

The same old lights-on propaganda is in this report. I would have thought new motorcycles sold in the UK would be hard-wired. Driver awareness and road authorities' lack of will to address that problem, seems to be a problem in Northern Ireland too.

Also, it would be good to know how the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) Foundation is made up and funded. I'm under the impression the BMF has a similar role in the UK to Motorcycling Australia here and the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) in the USA.

Likewise "Right to Ride".

Does the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) still operate in the UK?

The make up of the "focus group" does not inspire confidence and the emphasis participants place on rider, rather than driver, training seems to indicate a blame-the-victim mind set. This even though the problem of drivers looking but not seeing riders was identified in the study. It seems obvious that an increase in riders' skill levels will help casualty crash avoidance. It also obvious that a small increase in car driver skill levels and alertness would help casualty crash avoidance much more. Fewer in car distractions would be a good place to start. 

Safer car drivers will benefit more than just motorcycle & scooter riders. Safer drivers mean fewer road casualties overall. That benefits for bicyclists, pedestrians and car occupants too. But car driver training and car driver awareness/alertness does not seem to have been on the focus group's agenda.

How was crash scene data was collected? It has been clear at the Parliamentary Inquiry into Motorcycle Safety that crash scene data and analysis in Victoria is not adequate, especially in regional/rural areas. In this state, crash data collection at serious injury motorcycle or scooter crash sites does not get the same level of attention as fatals or multiple-fatals.

A constable with no specific training attending a crash site,  maybe hours after the incident and filling in a standard form, is hardly likely to supply reliable data to researchers who have little understanding of the way motorcycles & scooters operate in traffic. VicRoads/TAC/Police here are reluctant to admit this weakness in our system, let alone address it.

This Northern Ireland study sounds to me, at this stage, like something Vicroads would do. Its' credibility should be carefully tested. That is not to say there is no value in it. That is to say we would be irresponsible to take at face value a paper from the other side of the globe without looking at how it was put together and under what conditions. 

Not all road safety data translates well from country to country or even region to region. Bike law in Darwin may have a different effect on road users in Mildura because of the climate. Bike law in Sydney may have a different effect in Alice Springs because of traffic flow and the mix of vehicles. Bike law in Northern Ireland may have a different effect on riders in Victoria because of usage and distances travelled.

Damien Codognotto (L) with the Honourable David Hawker, Chairman of the Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Group (MAG).

Damien Codognotto OAM
Independent Riders' Group
Victoria  Australia


  1. It is good to see studies done like this one in Northern Ireland. However, what does it tell us that we don't already know? Half the time it's the riders fault, half the driver. Larger vehicles tend not to SEE motorcycles. ABS has small impact on morbidity outcomes etc etc.
    What concerned me was the immediate concensus by the focus group that advanced training be undertaken by the motorcyclist alone! No mention of advanced training for the drivers.
    While we would all agree that advanced rider training is essential, it seems once again the victim is the one who gets to fix the problem. Am I being too harsh?

  2. I just picked up this "blog" and it seems to me you have issues which go far beyond reasonable critiquing.

    Right To Ride is a small company of two people. Just to be crystal clear, I - Elaine Hardy received NO FUNDING from any organisation apart from £2000 from the BMF Foundation which is a branch of the British Motorcyclists Federation, a Riders' Rights organisation, after I had already completed the study.

    Simply your analysis is sloppy, unprofessional and simply amateurish. You evidently didn't read the report or if you did you were very selective.

    As an example you ask "How was crash scene data was collected?" -

    The study which was an analysis of the Forensic Science Road Traffic Collision investigation team in Northern Ireland. But it's all in the report.

    Pull your head in mate. You want to critique a report - at least have the courtesy of writing to the author to ask first to get answers.

    Sheesh - amateurs - you people should be quarantined.

  3. and another thing.... My partner at Right To Ride, Trevor Baird was the General Secretary of the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) and technical officer for the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) for many years before returning to Northern Ireland where he's from. I was the Research Officer of MAG UK and then FEMA before coming to Northern Ireland. My credentials are intact.

    But I guess you were too busy with your delusional diatribe of trying to demonstrate what an amazing analyst you are....

    And... all the participants in the focus group with one exception were experienced riders - including the ex Chairman of MAG Ireland and the chairman of the All Ireland Chopper Club. There was a list of all the participants - which you evidently forgot to mention to your readers... I wonder why?

    I am absolutely astounded and seriously hacked off that you bozos didn't take the time to read the report with a minimum of objectivity.

    WTF does your comment "APPEARS" infer??

    From an analytical perspective, it means simply that based on the evidence taking into consideration a series of factors - that car drivers appeared not to be expecting to see a motorcycle... and???

    What seriously pisses me off is the inference that I'm some sort of government stooge. I take that personally.