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Traffic – Motorcycle Safety

On this month’s Crimecall Garda Adrian Corcoran offered the following advice in relation to motorcycle safety:

Motorcycle Safety

Currently in Ireland Motorcycles represent 1.4% of the total number of licensed vehicles yet in 2021 they accounted for just over 16% of the total number of fatalities on our roads. 21 motorcyclists were killed on our roads last year. To date in 2022 10 motorcyclists have lost their lives on our roads, that’s 1 in 4 of all road deaths. The majority of incidents involving motorcycles are avoidable and all too often, are simply the result of basic errors made by riders. 

In June 2021 Gardai from DMR Roads Policing at Dublin Castle launched BikeSafe on a pilot basis. 

Bikesafe is a workshop includes a classroom setting which covers topics such as collision causation, cornering, positioning, overtaking, observation, braking, hazard perception and use of gears. This is followed by an observed ride out with an advanced Garda motorcyclist who provides feedback to identify strengths and areas for development. This gives the rider an impartial assessment of their motorcycle riding ability. BikeSafe raises awareness of the importance and value of bridging the gap and progressing on to accredited post-test training. The BikeSafe pilot continues for 2022 and more information can be found on www.garda.ie.


Part of the research prior to commencing the BikeSafe pilot was to study serious injury and fatal collisions involving motorcycles over the past number of years with a view to establishing the causation. It is evident that the majority of the collisions occurred in one of the following three areas: 

  • Overtaking
  • Junctions
  • Left hand bends 


Collisions have occurred when motorcyclists have been attempting to overtake another vehicle and one of two things has happened. Firstly the motorcyclist has misjudged the overtake or secondly the vehicle which the motorcyclist was overtaking has turned right. 


Collisions at junctions have occurred when other traffic has failed to observe the motorcycle and has driven into the path of the motorcycle causing a collision. 

Left Hand Bends

Collisions on left hand bends have occurred when the motorcyclist has misjudged the bend causing the motorcycle to travel onto the wrong side of the road and collide with traffic coming in the opposite direction.   

Further training can be hugely beneficial to motorcyclists as it can help improve their knowledge and skills and make them a safer and more confident rider. The current licencing system in Ireland includes Initial Basic Training (IBT) which is a training course broken down into separate modules covering a mixture of theory and practical riding skills. A lot of our motorcyclists would have obtained their licence prior to 2010 when the IBT was introduced. These motorcyclists would not have undergone any formal training and they would certainly benefit from some further training. A list of accredited trainers can be found on the RSA website

I would appeal to motorists to watch out for motorcyclists, especially at junctions and when turning right. The number of motorcycle casualties on our roads so far this year is worryingly high and we don’t want to see this continue over the summer months. 

POWDER check should be carried out by the motorcyclist prior to each journey. 

P - Petrol - Important to have enough petrol to complete the journey as running out could leave you stranded. Know if the motorcycle has a reserve tank or a warning light. 

O - Oil - Know how to check the oil level on your motorcycle. Making sure the motorcycle has the correct amount of oil in the engine will reduce engine wear and prevent engine seizure which could lead to a collision. 

W - Water - Know how to check the coolant level. Is motorcycle water or air cooled? Modern machines will have a warning light to alert rider of a problem. 

D - Damage - Check the motorcycle for signs of obvious damage, such as indicators, brake and clutch levers. Light lenses and mirrors should also be checked. Is there any noticeable damage to wheel rims or tyre walls? Are there any drips or pools under the motorcycle? 

E - Electrics - Are you sure all your lights and indicators are clean and working? Horn and brake lights should also be checked. Know where the fuses are and how to replace them. 

R - Rubber - Your tyres are an essential component of motorcycle safety. Ensure they have adequate tread depth (1.0 mm is the legal limit in Ireland). Make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure and defect free. 

More information on this can be found on the rsa website www.rsa.ie. 

A motorcycle helmet is the most important purchase a motorcyclist will ever make. That is why it is extremely important that when you buy a helmet it meets the current European standard. 

A helmet which meets this standard will display the code ECE 2206. This means that it has undergone a series of tests which ensure that it will provide the motorcyclist with adequate protection in the event of a collision. 

Area for concern for motorcyclists is the online purchase of helmets. While the internet is a good place to get a bargain, you really do need to take extreme care if buying a helmet online, specifically if it is not from a recognised supplier. 

A product which is relatively new to the market is an airbag vest. These have been used by motorcycle racers since the 1990’s and are now available to the road rider. The idea is that in the event of a collision this vest inflates and provides protection to the back, neck and chest. This will significantly reduce the risk of spinal cord injury. These vests are a worthwhile investment and they make the odds better on surviving a collision with less injury.