Gardaí warn summertime is bad for motorcyclists

Bank holiday weekend enforcement will concentrate on potentially fatal errors


A warm summer could be lethal for motorcyclists, the Garda and the Road Safety Authority have warned.

With fine weather forecast for the May bank holiday weekend, the authorities revealed biker fatalities increased by almost 70 per cent last summer - defined as the period from May to September.

Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey said gardaí would be targeting all the main causes of fatalities – speeding, non- wearing of seat belts and drink driving “right across the country” this coming weekend.

According to an analysis by the Road Safety Authority and the Garda, the fine weather appears to encourage more motorbike use, and some misplaced confidence among bikers and other road users.

In 2012, a total of 16 bikers lost their lives on the State’s roads during the summer, but in 2013 this figure rose to 27, a rise which was attributed to the fine weather which brought more people out to picnic sites and tourist attractions.

Motorcyclists accounted for 14 per cent of road deaths in 2013, despite making up less than two per cent of the total vehicle fleet, the authorities said.

They also said the research showed motorcyclists were three times more likely to be killed on Irish roads than in any other EU country.

Garda Chief Supt Michael O’Sullivan of the Garda National Traffic Bureau said bikers needed to be aware of how vulnerable they were, and never exceed their own capabilities or those of their machine.

According to the authorities there were four main factors behind motorcycle deaths. These were:

* A motorcyclist overtaking a vehicle which was turning right, resulting in the motorcyclist colliding with the side of the turning vehicle

* A motorcyclist, while overtaking, colliding head on with an oncoming vehicle

* A motorcyclist losing control while cornering and crossing into the path of an oncoming vehicle or colliding with a pole, or wall on the other side of the road

* A driver failing to see a motorcyclist when turning, driving through a junction or joining a main road from a minor road.

Mr Twomey said about three quarters of motorcyclists killed in the summer last year, were travelling near home and were killed in a familiar area.

A collision with a car ahead turning right was a particular problem resulting in nine fatalities alone last year, he said.

He also said motorbikes did not have the right to use bus lanes.

Michael Rowland, director of the Road Safety Authority, said drivers need to pay more attention and be constantly on the lookout for motorcyclists in their blind spots at junctions and especially when turning right.

He also said motorcyclists should be “extremely” careful when overtaking and when taking bends.

Mr Twomey also revealed last week’s two-day, targeted mobile phone operation had seen 1,191 drivers caught using a mobile phone while driving. This is approximately six times more than is normally detected over a two day period.

He said the numbers were disappointing, in that so many drivers choose to continue to use their phones even when warned of the crackdown, “effectively causing a risk for you and I on the road”.

He added: “An Garda will continue to target this ‘lifesaver’ offence, which will now be strengthened by additional legislation which is being introduced on the 1st May 2014 in relation to reading or sending a text from a mobile phone.”