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Other motorists have responsibility for bikers too, campaign warns

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The safety of motorcyclists on Northern Ireland’s roads is as dependent on other drivers as it is on them, Environment Minister Sammy Wilson warned today.

The Minister made his comments during the launch at the North West 200 of a new DOE road safety campaign focusing on biker vulnerability.

With half of all motorcyclist deaths and serious injuries caused by other drivers, Mr Wilson told the launch: “This new campaign is designed to persuade drivers, who are responsible for 51% of motorcyclist casualties, to give greater consideration to the safety of motorcyclists.

“The aim of the new advert is to reduce the deaths and serious injuries of motorcyclists who are over-represented as casualties. Although motorcycles represent 3.1% of all licensed vehicles in Northern Ireland, motorcyclists account for 14% of all road deaths.”

The advert targets motorists of all ages to make them aware of how the most common of driver errors could result in motorcyclist deaths and serious injuries. The list of errors includes, emerging from a minor road or entrance without care, turning right without care or U-turning without care.

The Minister explained: “Evidence shows drivers perceive motorcyclists as the phantoms of the road, they see the machine, not the person. The motorcyclist can become dehumanised and faceless and there is a tendency for drivers to blame motorcyclists even when they are not at fault.

“This new thought-provoking campaign challenges drivers to think in a new way about motorcyclists – to look at the person beneath the helmet and separate the motorcyclist from the machine.

“Many drivers choose not to recognise the vulnerability of the motorcyclist. Instead they choose to drive on auto-pilot, often failing to scan the road, over-optimistic about dangers and preoccupied with their daily routines.

“The single most powerful thing we can say to prevent biker casualties is: Drivers - take another look at motorcyclists.

“We need to remind motorists that every motorcyclist is a human being – a father, a brother, a son, an uncle, a sister, a mother, a partner.”

The “Underneath” television advert will run from 14 May to 14 June 2009.

Notes to Editors:

  1. The DOE “Thinking Ahead” radio advert, which addresses biker fault, will also coincide with the North West 200, running from 14– 17 May on Q97.
  2. The International North West 200 is Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event, attracting crowds in excess of 150,000. Taking place annually in May, the International North West 200 circuit runs between the towns of Portrush, Portstewart and Coleraine. The North West 200 race takes place on Saturday 16 May with practice races happening earlier in the week.
  3. For the five year period 2003-2007, the number of motorcyclist deaths was 14% (95) of all deaths on Northern Ireland roads, despite motorcycles accounting for only 3.1% of licensed vehicles.
  4. So far this year, 43 people have died on Northern Ireland’s roads, five of whom have been motorcyclists.
  5. For media enquiries please contact DOE Press Office 028 9054 0014 or out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.