Motorcycle Casualties in Dorset

Dorset County Council’s Road Safety Officer, Sue Virgin, has been delving into the casualty statistics to give us an insight into how analysing the statistics help to shape the authority’s Traffic Safety Plan and how Dorchester and West Dorset Advanced Motorcyclists (DWDAM) are becoming involved.

The wider context
The government has set a target for local authorities to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the roads by 40% by the end of 2010.

Steady progress was being made towards the target until 2007 when the first increase in KSI casualties was recorded since 2002. An increase was also recorded for 2008.

The Dorset County Council (DCC) area does not include the Boroughs of Poole and Bournemouth, who operate as unitary authorities.

Who’s most at risk?
We need to identify who is involved in the collisions and where they are occurring to ensure that we focus engineering, education and enforcement resources where they will be most effective.


Car occupants are most at risk overall. However motorcyclists form just 1% of traffic yet account for 25% of KSI casualties and are 3 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than a car occupant. 


A closer look at motorcycle KSI casualties
When analysing casualties it is usual to use the most recent 3 year data available.  The data which follows related to the latest 3 years being August 2006 to July 2009.

Location map of fatal and serious motorcycle collisions (latest 3 years Aug 06- July 09)


First impressions are that collisions are well spread, with clusters around the urban areas of Weymouth, Ferndown and Christchurch.

The engineering team will do further analysis to identify locations where there is a potential for physical road improvements; the police identify routes where traffic law violations have contributed to the collision in order to prioritise patrols and the safety camera partnership identify locations where excessive speed was a contributory factor.

Promoting and developing post-test training opportunities to riders is a key role of DCC’s road safety team.   Training opportunities are available to all riders, however we focus the courses on those most at risk.  From the data available we identify the size of the bike involved; whether the casualties occur on urban (roads with  40mph or less speed restriction) or rural roads (roads with 50mph and above speed restriction); the age group of the riders.

Bike Size

This chart shows that those most at risk are riding bikes with over 500cc engine size. 
- 57% of  KSI riders were on 500cc+ bikes and
- 89% of riders killed were on 500cc+ bikes

What age is the rider of 500cc+ bikes?


Although KSI’s are spread across the age groups 41% of those killed were aged 43-51.

Where are the collisions happening?
Roads with a speed restriction of 50mph and above are referred to as ‘rural’ roads and roads with a speed restriction of 40mph or less are referred to as ‘urban’ roads.


Taking into account all bike sizes 52% of KSI casualties occurred on rural roads and 48% on urban roads.  However 74% of deaths occurred on rural roads – with 93% of those on 500cc+ bikes.
Riders of 500cc+ bikes also form 48% of KSI casualties on urban roads.

Casualty Reduction Initiatives
DCC’s road safety team are working with partners to promote further training opportunities to motorcyclists including:

Ride Safe – half day courses on high risk routes, delivered by local IAM motorcycle groups (DWDAM and BWAM)

Bike Safe – national course delivered by Dorset Police

IAM advanced training – delivered by local IAM motorcycle groups (DWDAM and BWAM)


Contact: Sue Virgin, Road Safety Officer, Dorset County Council, County Hall, Dorchester DT1 1XJ
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 01305 224267

For permission to reproduce this article, please contact Sue Virgin at Dorset County Council (details above).

Additional information