April 30 2013.

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) has called for rebalanced road safety expenditure as the need for greater awareness of vulnerable road users is highlighted.

With parliament debating road safety issues this week, the MCIA is calling for a greater focus on educating motorists about the need to be aware of vulnerable road users. The debate is in advance of the publication of a government green paper on young drivers, which is expected soon.

Government road safety figures highlight disturbing accident statistics surrounding young drivers:

  • 412 people were killed in accidents involving young car drivers aged 17-24 years, accounting for 22 per cent of all road deaths.
  • Nearly a fifth (1,552) of all car occupants killed or seriously injured were young car drivers aged 17-24 years. (Department for Transport (DfT), Reported Road Casualties Great Britain).
The risk of having an accident for drivers of all ages is halved after the first six months of passing a test, which makes the period immediately post-test a crucial time, putting all road users at risk. As such, it makes sense to incorporate a question about vulnerable road users into the driving test, in order to raise awareness of them among new drivers. This could only be beneficial to the safety of all road users and is something the MCIA has supported in the recent past.

Steve Kenward, CEO of the MCIA said; "The forthcoming Green Paper on young drivers is an opportune time to make changes which could benefit the safety of young drivers and all other modes of transport at the same time.

"The MCIA is also concerned about the balance of road safety expenditure between vulnerable modes of transport. So far this year just £1.275million has been earmarked for motorcycle safety under the 'Think!' campaign, compared to £40million committed to safer roads for cycling, announced this month. This despite ministers stating that motorcycle safety is a 'key priority' in answer to parliamentary questions. The motorcycle industry is therefore calling for a rebalancing of road safety expenditure to invest in reducing motorcycle rider vulnerability. The DfT's forthcoming transport policy framework also needs to recognise and support motorcycling. This is important, given that an increasing number of people using motorcycles for commuting to work."

The MCIA is also highlighting the fact that research repeatedly shows that certain classes of other road users are often not seen by car drivers, unless they know someone personally who drives a similar vehicle, or have had experience of driving one themselves. The government should therefore take the opportunity of a review of driver testing to make the actual experience of driving a motorcycle, a component of a car driving test. This would also benefit cyclists.