Motorcycling Safety

The royal society for the prevention of accidents Motorcycling safety policy paper

JUNE 2006

Motorcycle Use:

There are around 1.52 million motorcycles (excluding mopeds) in Great Britain7. In 2004, 2.3% of households owned a motorcycle, the majority of whom also owned one or more cars. In fact, motorcycles are more common in households that own at least one car than in households that do not own a car. The highest ownership rate was in the South West of England and the lowest in Scotland.

Motorcycle Accidents & Casualties

Despite forming only 1% of road traffic, motorcyclists account for 180% (almost one in five) of road deaths and serious injuries. In 2005, 569 motorcyclists were killed on the road, 5,939 were seriously injured and just over 18,000 were slightly injured.


Anyone who obtained their full car driving licence on or after 1 February 2001 must complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) before they can legally ride any type of motorcycle or moped on the road. People who obtained their full car driving licence before 1 February 2001 do not need to take a CBT test to ride a moped, but must do so in order to ride any other motorcycle. However, CBT and/or motorcycle training is still strongly recommended.

Other Road User Behaviour

Most motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle, usually with a car, but large vehicles also feature strongly. Although, there is much that motorcyclists can do to avoid such collisions, the behaviour of drivers is equally crucial.

Motorcycle Design

Improvements to the design and construction of cars over the last 10 or 20 years have resulted in very substantial reductions in deaths and injuries on the road. This has not been the case with changes to the design of motorcycles

The Environment:

Road Design is of particular importance to motorcycle riders since bad design features can increase risks to them. Features that are unnoticed by a car driver can be dangerous for a motorcycle rider. For example, features such as steel manhole covers positioned on the line round a bend, white paint on the road where a rider needs to change direction and loose grit gathering on the road surface can all prove dangerous if not lethal to motorcycle riders.