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Safety Measures for Motorcycles Gives Biggest Rate of Return Says EuroRAP

Publication date: 04 December 2008

Highways authorities across Europe should follow the lead of France, Spain and the Netherlands, and a appoint a motorcycle champion, tasked specifically with safe road design for bikers, if the number of deaths is to be reduced, according to EuroRAP, the association measuring and mapping the safety of roads across Europe.

EuroRAP – led by European Programme Director, Dr Joanne Hill - has drawn together a panel of experts from across Europe to examine experiences and practices throughout the world.  Today (4 December), the panel publishes  Bariers to change: designing safe roads for motorcyclist (2070 KB)

Safe road design – incorporating barriers, road markings and safer surfaces – has been proven to cut deaths and injuries for all road users by one third.

Crash barriers – that routinely save the lives of car occupants but can cause traumatic death and injury to biker – account for one in every six rider road deaths, and causing five times the severity of injury. In collisions with crash barriers, bikers are 15 times more likely to be killed than car occupants.

Across Europe, 16 per cent of all road fatalities are motorcyclists. In terms of rider fatalities per billion kilometres travelled, Norway has the lowest number at 30 per billion km.

The report finds clear evidence to justify new and immediate guidance on the design and positioning of crash barriers, showing road engineers where motorcycle friendly systems should be fitted at new sites, and retro-fitted at existing high-risk sites.

The report also calls for:

•    European member countries to extend safety programmes to analyse risk patterns for motorcyclists
•    Collision-report forms to include the collection of information on crash barriers, such as the type of barrier and the circumstances under which it was struck
•    Demonstration projects showing pre- and post- implementation of motorcycle friendly devices under real world conditions
•    Road-user specific risk reduction targets
•    Road engineers to set clear criteria for crash barrier design and positioning

“Road authorities can appoint in-house champions to assure action on unacceptable risks to motorcyclists.

“Elsewhere in Europe – in France, Spain and The Netherlands – road engineers have clear guidance to support decisions, rather than being forced to use their judgment on matters of life and death.

“In France, road designers have already introduced a lower rail on crash barriers at key locations to prevent bikers from sliding under or hitting support posts.  Since the modified barriers came into use, authorities have seen rates a 50 per cent drop in rider fatalities.”


Notes to Editor

The full report and photographs are available to view and download at:

 ‘Barriers to change: designing safe roads for motorcyclists’ finds that:

•    There is a lack of attention to safe road infrastructure for motorcyclists.

•    Motorcycling is becoming increasingly popular both for leisure and commuting. The number in use across Europe reached over 17 million in 2005 – an increase of nearly 50% on 1998 figures.

•    Across Europe road fatalities are reducing, but rider deaths have stagnated, falling by less than 1.5% annually.

•    Motorcyclists represent 16% of all European road deaths, but just 2% of the total distance travelled.

•    Riders are 30 times more likely to be killed in a crash than car occupants and four times more likely than cyclists.

•    Crash barriers are designed with car-users in mind – cars, and to a lesser extent, heavy vehicles. The European testing standard makes no mention of motorcycles.

•    Hitting a crash barrier is a factor in 8-16% of rider deaths.

•    In collisions with crash barriers, riders are 15 times more likely to be killed than a car occupant.

•    Barrier support posts are particularly aggressive, irrespective of the barriers’ other components, causing a five-fold increase in injury severity compared to the average motorcycle crash.

•    Motorcycle-friendly systems have been shown to halve fatalities and offer up to 400% rates of return.

Supporting notes:
Powered two-wheeler deaths in Europe – average 16% of all road deaths

Above this average are Austria, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, [Malta – very low statistical base], Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and UK

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