Bikers remain more vulnerable

2018-02-19 13:45

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Motorcyclists remain the most vulnerable road users.

This is according to motorbike safety instructor and founder of the Motorcycle Institute of South Africa, Hein Jonker.

Jonker said there has been an astounding increase in motorcycle crashes countrywide, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Most of the crashes happen in urban areas where there is a huge congestion of risk factors such as other vehicles, pedestrians and road surface issues,” said Jonker.

According to the Motorcycle Safety Institute of South Africa’s 2017 accident statistics report, there were 641 motorcycle crashes resulting in medical or law enforcement intervention in South Africa — that’s 12 a week, or almost two a day — resulting in 520 injuries and 166 fatalities.

Of the 641 crashes, 163 were single-vehicle incidents. The other 478 were knockdowns; but not all the riders were knocked down by cars. According to traffic authorities, 14 motorcyclists were brought down by pedestrians.

Last month, the institute said it recorded 19 deaths, which were caused by 55 crashes involving a motorbike and another vehicle as well as 26 that involved only bikes.

Jonker said quite a few of the crashes were speed related.

“Some motorcyclists drive at the wrong speed in the wrong situation. They ride at speeds above the situational recommended speed limit and put themselves at high risk. Motorcyclists need to adjust their speed according to risk factors and not just be reliant on the posted speed limit.

“A mindset change is needed. We have launched a campaign that will give regular information to riders about safety tips and guidelines about how they should change their thinking,” he added.

Jonker also emphasised the importance of vigilance from other road users, adding that every road user must hold themselves accountable for their actions on the road.

Adrian Bloem, a safety representative at Pietermaritzburg motorcyclists’ club 100 Riders, said most of the serious crashes occur between trucks and motorcycles.

“Ninety percent of the time motorcyclists ride in the trucker’s blind spot and they can’t be seen. When the trucker indicates and changes lanes the motorcycle is already there and a crash happens. Motorcyclists should be seen; they must wear reflective jackets and always have their headlights on when riding,” said Bloem.

He added that unlicensed riders also contributed to the increase in statistics.

Caro Smit, the founder of South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd), said a big contributing factor was that other motorists tend to ignore motorcycles.

“Other motorists ignore them and don’t think they have the same rights on the road. They [motorists] push motorcyclists off the road or ride over them. Another problem is vehicles often overtake on the left and it makes it more dangerous for motorcyclists,” said Smit.

A police officer who has investigated hundreds of motorcycle collisions said motorcyclists need to comply with road laws, otherwise the current increase in accidents would continue.

He said that in addition to driving in between cars, motorcyclists regularly drive on the wrong side of the road past cars in long queues.

The police officer also said motorcyclists also often ride without helmets.

“One guy I stopped to ask why he was not wearing a helmet said it was his head and that he should be allowed to do with it as he pleases.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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