Motorists have been warned to take care as leisure motorcyclists dust their machines down for the first time since winter after statistics revealed big increases in the number of bike accidents during spring and summer.
Research by the UK's leading personal injury law firm Irwin Mitchell shows the number of motorbike riders killed or seriously injured increases dramatically between April and September.
The firm also warned older riders to take particular care after statistics from the Department for Transport revealed a 94% increase in the number of over-50s being killed or seriously injured in the past decade.
Advice to motorcyclists given by the firm includes making sure their bikes are in good working order by checking vital parts like brakes and steering, familiarising themselves with their machines on easier roads before tackling tougher journeys, and remaining as visible as possible by using fluorescent jackets and dipped headlights.
Car drivers can also play their part by travelling with extra caution as the number of motorbike riders increases, particularly on countryside routes.
Jane Horton, a partner and head and spinal injury specialist at Irwin Mitchell's Leeds office, said: "You may expect motorcyclists to be more at risk during winter when road conditions are generally worse but these figures show that as the number of riders getting back on their machines during spring and summer rises so does the number of accidents.
"It is vital people take time to remind themselves about the risks on the road. That is especially important for older riders. Over the past few years we've seen more and more people take up motorbike riding later in life and at the same time the number getting killed or seriously injured has nearly doubled. This is at a time when the numbers are dropping for riders in their 20s and 30s so it is the older generation that seems particularly vulnerable."
Figures show that the number of riders killed or seriously injured rises from an average of 436 per month between October and March to 687 from April to September. Meanwhile, in 2007 there were 804 riders aged over 50 killed or seriously injured - between 1994 and 1998 the average was just 414.
Jane Horton continued: "We deal with many cases involving riders who have been involved in road accidents and they will inevitably be at more risk than car drivers. There are measures they can take to address those dangers and keep themselves safe.
"Riders of all ages should be cautious when they get on their machines for the first time after months off the road, ensuring first that it is in good working order and that brakes, steering and suspension are all operating properly. They should try to ease themselves back into the saddle by taking on less challenging routes, getting a feel for their bike’s power and gradually become comfortable on the road.
"That includes pillion passengers who may be just as out of practice – both the rider and passenger should take time to familiarise themselves with how they communicate and how to position themselves so they do not affect the bike’s handling.
"Riders should also remember to wear the correct protective clothing. Even though it may be warmer that is no reason to discard their leathers. And despite the longer days, it is still wise to wear fluorescent materials and opt for dipped headlights to stay as visible as possible.
"It is important they bear in mind that other road users, like ramblers and pedal cyclists, could also be setting out for the first time in months and need to be overtaken with even greater care than normal. There is also an increased danger of less common hazards that can still pose a considerable risk, such as animals crossing highways that riders should be aware of."
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