Gay Byrne appeals to motorbikers to take care on roads

Call comes following deaths of two men in their 20s in Co Laois crash this morning

While 2013 saw the number of motorcyclists killed on Irish roads almost double ‘it did so from a very low base as 2012 was the lowest year for 50 years’, chairman of the RSA Gay Byrne said.   Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

While 2013 saw the number of motorcyclists killed on Irish roads almost double ‘it did so from a very low base as 2012 was the lowest year for 50 years’, chairman of the RSA Gay Byrne said. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Fri, Jul 25, 2014, 15:46

The chairman of the Road Safety Authority Gay Byrne has appealled to motorbikers to take extra care following the deaths of two men in Co Laois this morning.

The two men aged in their 20s lost their lives when the motorbike on which they were travelling was involved in a collision with a van near Arles on the Portlaoise to Carlow road, at about 6am. The van driver was taken to The Midland Regional Hospital in Portlaoise but is not thought to be seriously injured.

The deaths come amidst a major campaign from the Road safety Authority which says the number of motorcyclists killed on the State’s roads almost doubled in 2013, from 16 to 27 - with levels on course to be repeated in 2014.

August and September are high points for bikers engaged in summer time touring. In 2013 six people lost their lives in motorbike crashes in August and September.

Mr Byrne, who is to attend his last meeting as chairman of the Road Safety Authority on Tuesday, warned against taking the number out of context pointing out that while 2013 saw the numbers almost double “it did so from a very low base as 2012 was the lowest year for 50 years”.

But he said his own analysis which he had conducted “up to about one month ago” showed that none of the bikers who had received their licence since compulsory motorbike training had been mandatory had been killed on the roads.

“It is purely speculation on my part but I would like to think that at least some of those killed might not be dead if they had undergone compulsory training,” he said.

Mr Byrne appealed for drivers to take extra care, particularly over the summer months.

His words were mirrored by the authority’s press spokesman Brian Farrell who asked that bikers resist the temptation to discard protective clothing during the hot spell. While the heavy clothing may be sweaty and uncomfortable he said the decision about their use may amount to “a choice between a shower or a skingraft”.