Somerset

Rise in motorcyclist deaths on Somerset's roads

More motorcyclists have died on Somerset's roads this year than in the whole of 2012, a safety organisation has said.

Seven people have died so far in 2013, compared with four last year.

It is the first year in the last five that there has been an increase in the number of deaths.

Somerset Road Safety said speed was a significant factor and warned too many bikers were taking risks.

Terry Beale, Somerset County Council's road safety manager, said there were two reasons for the increase in deaths.

"One is that, certainly at this time of the year, the weather is such that we are seeing more and more motorcyclists out on the road, but what we are also seeing is an increase in speed related collisions," he said.

Mr Beale said five of the seven deaths this year were linked to motorcyclists going too fast.

He added that the deaths covered a range of ages and that there was a need for more training and awareness.

"When we look at the crashes we know that they are going into bends too fast and forgetting that they are getting onto a machine with no mind of its own," Mr Beale said.

"The rider is the only person that decrees what happens to them and that machine."

'Appear hazardous'

Peter Herridge, an advanced motorcycling instructor from Yeovil, said he would urge motorcyclists to take up advanced training - but does not believe it should be compulsory.

"I think a lot of car drivers or vehicle drivers might see motorcyclists doing things, which to them could appear very risky," he said.

"But actually, for the motorcyclist, with the agility, power and additional vision you have on a motorbike, you can make some manoeuvres which from the outside may look a little bit hazardous.

"But actually, the motorcyclist is fully in control of what they are doing and can complete that manoeuvre quite safely."

'Bike in his blood'

Last year Janet Garland's son, 25-year-old Eric Garland, was killed when the motorcycle he was riding was involved in a crash with a people carrier in Bishop's Hull, near Taunton.

Mrs Garland said her son had wanted a moped for his 16th birthday, after which he went on to ride a 125cc bike, before completing the necessary tests to ride a more powerful 600cc motorbike.

"He did all the bike awareness, he lived for his bike. He always had bike in his blood," she said.

"He was very aware of everything going on around him and every time he left the house, I said 'watch everybody else'.

"It's always in the back of your head [that he could be hurt], but because he was so experienced on a bike, I thought he'd be ok.

"Unfortunately it is car drivers as well, we've all got to take part of the blame."

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