MIDDLE-AGED male bikers have been warned to “roll off the throttle” by Police Scotland and Road Safety Scotland, with official figures expected to show the first increase in motorcycle deaths in three years.
Motorcyclists in their forties are most at risk on Scotland’s roads, with many expected to dust off their powerful machines over the Easter weekend at the traditional start of the summer biking season.
One hospital described the expected increase in casualties as “the Easter rush”.
Biker deaths have halved from 43 in 2009 to 21 in 2012, but The Scotsman understands that figures for last year, due to be published in June, will show an increase of some three or four fatalities.
The rise is believed to be linked to last summer’s good weather, which encouraged more bikers to take to the roads.
All but three of 2012’s deaths were in rural areas, with most crashes happening on corners.and involving bikes over 500cc.
Bikers account for one in eight road deaths despite amounting to just 1 per cent of traffic.
A further 342 bikers were seriously injured on Scotland’s roads last year – nearly 50 more than in 2012. Nine in ten biker casualties are men, with one in three of those killed or seriously injured in their forties.
The slow-down campaign, launched by Road Safety Scotland, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, focuses on urging bikers to think of the consequences a crash could have – such as its effect on their partners and children.
Superintendent Iain Murray, head of road policing for Police Scotland, said there was no point in issuing a “don’t risk it” message, so bikers were being told instead to consider “those waiting for you at home”.
He said: “With statistics unfortunately showing most motorcycle casualties occur during the day and in good weather, and with more motorcyclists
getting their bikes out at the start of summer, it’s important to take it easy in all conditions.
“Most serious and fatal motorcycle collisions happen in rural areas, involving higher speed limits. So our message is clear –when you’re out on your bike over the summer, make sure you make it back to your loved ones.
“Roll off the throttle – don’t risk it for their sake.”
Motoring groups said motorcyclists could have vital extra moments to react to hazards if they kept an eye on their speed.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Such is the unfortunate predictability of motorcycle crashes at this time of year, a hospital manager told us this week he was gearing up for the Easter rush.
“The majority of road
accidents involve human error and if we accept road users will always make mistakes then at least watching our speed gives us more time to get out of
Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Scotland’s roads are a beautiful, enjoyable and sometimes challenging ride for motorcyclists.
“They are different every time you ride them because you never know what’s coming round the next bend.
“Whether that bend is hiding livestock, holidaymakers, tractors or another motorcyclist, easing off the throttle will give you more time to react.”