Fatigue, speed and alcohol - the three big dangers for bikers this Bank Holiday weekend

Bank Holidays are the perfect occasion for getting the bike out and going for a long ride.

Good weather, lovely countryside, open roads … what could be better?

But while we want you to have a brilliant day on your bike, we also want you to make it home safely. The police and biker groups point out that there is a sting in the tail for too many Bank Holiday leisure riders: they become one of just under 170,100 casualties linked with motorcycle accidents in England and Wales every year.

Bikers are 38 times more likely to be killed in a motor accident compared to car occupants, per mile travelled – and this terrible statistic spikes on Bank Holidays when occasional leisure riders get their bikes out and hit the roads.

Earlier this year Lancashire Police released a heart-breaking video as part of its campaign to reduce bike crashes over Bank Holiday weekends, with one of its traffic officers retelling how his own father – a keen and experienced biker – had lost his life while on a Bank Holiday ride one year.

One of the key causes of crashes is fatigue, the video explains.

“We know from our own conversations with riders that most crashes occur towards the end of their ride,” the police said. “If you’ve had a full and fun day out, it’s only natural to start feeling tired towards the end of the journey. Many riders think that by slowing their speed down it will keep them safe, but while that will always help, it’s your concentration that needs to be at the top of its game. A momentary lapse of concentration can prove fatal.”

In the Lancashire Police video, the officer recounts how his father attempted an overtaking manoeuvre but took his bike straight into the path of a van coming in the opposite direction.

“I think he just didn’t see the van,” the officer said. “He was tired and he made a mistake.”

So the message is, remember, at the end of your ride, your speed may be lower, but your concentration has got to be higher.

Don’t push yourself to ride for long distances - particularly if you are an occasional rider who doesn’t get out on the bike much. Bike riding demands immense amounts of concentration, which is tiring. Factor in regular breaks and if you start to feel fatigued, stop to refresh.

But there are other worries connected to Bank Holiday rides out. It should be fun – but that doesn’t mean fast. Too often bike riders crash after taking unacceptable risks at speed. The speed limits are there for your protection so never be tempted to open up the throttle and speed: stick to the limit.

And no matter how warm the day, and how good the beer looks, bike riding and alcohol do not mix. Even a solitary pint will impair the fine motor skills on which bike riders rely to control their bike in safety and respond quickly when circumstances demand prompt action, such as swerving to avoid road debris or a car or van that’s not spotted you.

Golden rules

Whenever you are riding:

  • Watch your speed; never be tempted to push the throttle even if the road ahead looks clear. Speed limits are there for your protection
  • Take care when approaching a high-risk situation, such as a junction
  • Wear protective clothing: a good quality helmet that meets British standards teamed with gauntlets/gloves and bikers’ jackets and trousers can reduce the seriousness of injuries incurred in a crash.
  • Most crashes this Bank Holiday weekend will occur towards the end of the journey. If you are tired or start to feel fatigued, take a break.

And here’s a final stat to make you focus: although the majority of motorbike crashes occur on urban roads or motorways (70%), the majority of fatalities are actually on rural roads (66%) – the same roads you might be riding on this weekend. So take care.

You can watch the Lancashire Police video here:



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