Norfolk death toll sparks safety plea over motorcyclists

Signs at the scene of the motorbike fatality on the B1108 between Watton and Mundford. Photo: Steve

Signs at the scene of the motorbike fatality on the B1108 between Watton and Mundford. Photo: Steve Adams

A safety plea has been made to motorcyclists and drivers following the deaths of two more motorbike riders in separate crashes at Bodney and on the A47 at Easton over the weekend.

Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Hall, centre; area manager for the Fire Service, Stuart Horth, rig

Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Hall, centre; area manager for the Fire Service, Stuart Horth, right; and Chief Inspector, Chris Spinks, with the £50,000 pint which represents the personal financial cost of drink-driving. Picture: Denise Bradley - Credit: Archant 2013

The deaths come just weeks after David Holmes, 38, from Sprowston was killed in a crash on the A47 at Honingham in June.

Police are making a further appeal for witnesses following a fatal crash in Ingham in which a motorcyclist died.

Another motorcyclist was killed last month after a bike hit a tree at Ingham, near Sea Palling. A man in his 40s died following the crash.

Those fatalities bring to at least 10 the number of motorcyclists to have been killed in Norfolk since the beginning of January with six fatalities occurring before the end of May.


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Figures released by Norfolk police show that in 2012 there were 10 fatalities, with five in 2011, 10 in 2010 and 2009, and 13 in 2008 bringing the total number killed in five years to at least 58.

The statistics show that motorcyclists account for 37pc of the 27 road deaths so far this year, 26pc of the 39 road deaths in 2012 and 2010, 12pc of the 43 road deaths in 2011, 20pc of the 50 in 2009 and 34 pc of the 38 in 2008.

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Although it is too early to speculate as to what might have caused these most recent tragedies, Chief Inspector Chris Spinks of the Norfolk and Suffolk roads policing unit said motorcyclists were particularly vulnerable, and thus more at risk of losing their life than motorists.

He said: 'Any fatality is a tragedy and any collision where people suffer serious injury is a tragedy but motorcyclists are always much more vulnerable, even if the collision is not their fault, because they don't have the same protection as you do in a car.

'Motorcyclists will have a disproportionate number of fatalities and serious injuries because of the lack of protection they have.'

Chf Insp Spinks said that while there were always an element of any group of road users who took 'unnecessary risks' he said he did not want to put the blame solely at the foot at any of those groups and said police did a lot of work together with the county council to get all road users to try and be more aware of each other.

He said police attended the recent Superbikes meeting at Snetterton with the county council to try and educate riders about the dangers they face – and how they can make themselves safer.

With the warm weather set to continue Chf Insp Spinks has issued a message to both riders and drivers to look out for each other and lessen the likelihood of further fatalities or serious injuries.

He said: 'To riders, go out enjoy yourselves and enjoy the weather which we don't get as often as we like but please ride safely and appropriately and get home. Some motorcyclists need to think 'Do I want to die today', clearly the answer is no so ride safely.

'Car drivers concentrate on what your doing. Look around you and keep an eye on your mirrors.

'Whatever you might think about how other road users are behaving you need to drive appropriately. If there's a motorcyclist on the outside let them ride past and be aware there will probably be more of them out in the good weather and look out at what's going on around you.'

That message has been echoed by Stephen Bett, Norfolk's police and crime commissioner who is trying to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on Norfolk's roads as part of his crime plan.

He said: 'Whilst any death is one too many, Norfolk's track record for reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads is excellent.

'There is a human element to road incidents, though, and it is proving ever more difficult to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries. That is why I am urging those using bikes to keep safe this summer and I'm asking drivers to be extra vigilant.'

Iain Temperton, team manager of casualty reduction at Norfolk County Council, which is involved in the Think! Norfolk road safety scheme which has motorcyclist-centred initiatives, aimed at saving lives, has urged riders to sign up.

He said: 'The message to riders is all of our skills could be improved. We offer a range of courses in Norfolk for riders of all types and we would urge the motorcycling community to take up that training and improve their skills.'

Chris Hodder, government relations executive from the British Motorcyclists Federation, which represents motorcyclists in the UK, said there were no easy answers to cutting rider deaths.

He said: 'Firstly, drivers do need to be more aware of motorcycles. There isn't much evidence to support advertising and signs, but common sense would suggest they work. Also, post-test training is a good idea for motorcyclists to improve their skills and help them ride defensively, especially in rural areas like Norfolk.

'There is also a role for improved infrastructure. Some road furniture is simply not safe for motorcyclists and there is also an issue with maintenance, particularly over the last few harsh winters.

'Simple things like loose gravel on a fast bend could prove hazardous as well as overgrown hedges obscuring views.'

What's your view? Write to EDP letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email EDPLetters@archant.co.uk.

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