Police reported motorcycle crashes in Devon

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1 Police reported motorcycle crashes in Devon Paul Hewson May 30,

2 Contents I Background 4 1 Executive Summary 5 2 Literature Review Key Points Overview Motorcycle injury is inevitable Off-road riding Road-riding risks Alcohol Bike types Young riders Risk taking Socio-economic differentials Changes in behaviour Behavioual research Ongoing U.K. research Looked but failed to see patterns Older motorcyclists Multivariate analysis In-depth study On-the-spot study Aims

3 3 Overview 21 II Exploratory Data Analysis 25 4 Motorcycle crashes Weekly and daily patterns Seasonal patterns Road surface Text mining Weather Road layout Road Types Key points Riders Gender Bike types Origin of the riders Analysis of accident types Manoeuvres Comments Appendix

4 Part I Background 4

5 Chapter 1 Executive Summary This report examines the police reported motorcycle crashes with Devon. As far as is possible, this exploratory data analysis is carried out with respect to published research on motorcycle crashes. Table 1.1 provides summary information on the number of crashes reported in 2006: Fatal Serious Slight Damage Only Calendar Year Table 1.1: Sanity check: reported crashes in

6 Chapter 2 Literature Review 2.1 Key Points ˆ Injury / mortality burden now dominated by more chronologically mature riders ˆ Socio-economic differentials are particularly pronounced amongst young riders ˆ Females may be at relatively more risk of more serious injury ˆ There are limits to the rôle of medicine in mitigating injury consequences ˆ Motorcycles can cause signficant injury burdens even when not being used for transport (e.g. exhaust pipe burns among children, off-road riding) ˆ Current research concentrates on behavioural issues, but concerns over highways and violations of right of way abound ˆ Arguments have been made that powered two wheelersusers need to be more cautious about the effects of alcohol ˆ Machine type and size are related to relative injury severity 6

7 2.2 Overview The UK has seen a recent increase in the number of motorcycle fatalities, a feature also seen in Devon. This is not a UK-only phenomenon, for example Paulozzi (2005) reports a recent increase in fatalities in the US which was claimed to be largely due to recent increases in sales of powered two wheelers. There is still relatively little published research in relation to motorcycle accidents in Britain. Woodward (1983a) considered accidents in Nottinghamshire, and briefly considered national trends (Woodward, 1983b) in relation to motorcycle accidents. It is noteworthy that this was written at a time that motorcycle accidents were on the increase nationally. At that time, motorcycle fatalities were associated with riders from lower Socio-Economic Status groups, dominated by late night urban accidents with a frequent alchohol involvement. Fatalities peaked at age 20. One of the seminal studies on motorcycle accidents conducted in the U.S. (the Hurt Study ) dates from a similar period (Hurt Jr. et al., 1981). More recent work in Germany (Wick et al., 1998), based on an analysis of hospital admissions, suggested that accidents were peaking amongst year olds, and now these were predominantly 3pm - 10pm at weekends, and that over 2 of the bikes were in excess of 500cc. In this particular work, 40% of 3 the drivers felt responsible for the accident, mainly through speeding or risky overtaking, although 75% of the accidents appeared to involve violations of the motorcyclists right of way. Significantly, there was only one case recorded where alchohol seemed to contribute. About a third of the motorcyclists had passed their test within the last two years, but amongst the third who had held a licence for over 8 years few rode a bike regularly. The current situation both in the UK and in Devonappears very different to that depicted by Woodward. Recently in the U.K. (Lynam et al. (2001), examined 717 police reports of fatal motorcycle accidents suggested that a high proportion were single vehicle loss of control, often linked with excessive speed, alchohol or careless behaviour. Where other road users were judged responsible, the most common factors were failed to give way, poor turn 7

8 or manoeuvre, often associated with a failure to judge the riders path or speed. There was an interesting contrast between accidents when the motorcyclist was judged primarily responsible, in that mean speed was estimated at 57mph, and accidents where the other road user was primarily responsible, where the mean speed was estimated at 43 mph. Lynam et al. (2001) noted that the age of other road users responsible for motorcycle accidents peaked between 30 and 60, but the scant evidence in this study suggests that may be artefactual. However, what was noted was that in lesser severity accidents, excessive speed on the part of the motorcyclists was less likely to be recorded, and looked but did not see more likely to be reported. Data issues dominate this subject whereever it is studied. Whilst issues around STATs19 are well documented, the US Fatal Accident Record System (FARS) is not perfect, for example Lapidus et al. (1994) noted that 42% of US reported fatal motorcycle crash records had errors. There are therefore a number of valuable hospital based studies in the literature which provide detail not available from police based crash reporting systems. The United States has been source of much of the exisiting literature, in particular the National Highways Transport Safety Agency. Of specific interest on this site are details of rider attitude research and OECD collision data collection recommendations. However, in practice, police collision data in the UK will remain confined the instructions given in STATs 20 and there may be little scope to influence collection requirements Motorcycle injury is inevitable Hinds et al. (2007) essentially consider motorcycle injury inevitable, and highlighted a number of medical necessities essential for dealing with the kinds of trauma seen from motorcycle injuries. This would imply that personal protective equipment is essential. Ankarath et al. (2002) notes that head injury was the most common cause of death. Whilst helmets are mandated in the UK (and the relevant literature not reviewed here, e.g. Greenlander (1994), Weiss (1994)) the same is not true of other personal protective 8

9 equipment. Haasper et al. (2006) reports that knee injury was particularly common amongst motorcyclists. Matzavakis et al. (2005) comments that burn injuries from exhausts can be prevented by suitable clothing. Jeffers et al. (2004) comments on foot injury and Suri et al. (2007) reports on heel flap injury both of which could be avoided by the use of suitable clothing. Indeed, Peek et al. (1994) highlighted that in addition to the design of the other vehicle, personal protective equipment may be particularly important in mitigating lower limb damage in multiple vehicle collisions. Of interest to some riders may be the work of Horvath et al. (1993); Mulhall et al. (1995); Ko et al. (2004) who report on occurences of testicular dislocation following a motorcycle crash. Whilst motorcycle injury predominantly affects males, de lapparent (2006) is a particularly interesting study as they found that women were at greater risk of more serious injury relative to the total number of injuries suffered by any age/gender group. Apart from consideration of trends, there is ample evidence that motorcycle casualties represent a disproportionately high injury burden. For example in hospitals in Spain (Plasencia et al., 1995) or Singapore Quddus et al. (2002). Motorcycle injury is not confined to road users, for example Roberts et al. (2002) commented on a significant number of serious exhaust burns suffered by children. One issue that perhaps should be highlighted surrounds the potential for improved health care. Sinha et al. (1995) for example noted that specialist trauma centre (which do not necessarily have universally close geographical proximity to a casualty throughout the UK) are important in reducing mortality. Indeed, some of the trends in the number of fatalities on the roads in the last few decades may indeed be due to better emergency care. However, in a Scottish study, Wyatt et al. (1999) argued that there was little potential to reduce fatalities by better treatment and therefore argued strongly for an increased emphasis on preventative measures. 9

10 2.2.2 Off-road riding The burden of off-road riding has been examined, for example by Pomerantz et al. (2005) but is not considered further here, suffice to say that Colburn and Meyer (2003); Gobbi et al. (2004); Gorski et al. (2003) claim that off-road motorcycing is relatively safe in terms of the severity of injury incurred by riders (i.e. there may be a large number of injuries but they are usually of low severity). This report only considers on-road injuries. 2.3 Road-riding risks In the road context, it may be noted that Horswill and Helman (2003) suggest that motorcyclists experience 9.3 times more risk per unit time than car drivers and 7.9 times more risk per unit distance than car drivers (based on analysis of STATs 19 data for and National Travel Survey data for a similar period). They suggest three reasons for the disparity in risk: ˆ Physical vulnerability (both due to less mechanical protection and less machine stability) ˆ Behaviour of others (where both sensory conspicuity and cognitive conspicuity are components) ˆ Behaviour of themselves There are a number of features which deserve closer examination, for example Chang and Wang (2006) noted that vehicle type could be dominant explanation behind injury severity. However, motorcycle research currently tends to concentrate on behavioural issues (Chesham et al., 1993). Although motorcyclist issues will be identified (for example conspicuity and daylight running lights are promoted as protective for the rider), issues around the other participant are important, and there is work indicating that drivers may need some training in this regard (Horswill et al., 2005). 10

11 In terms of behavioural issues, risk taking is a commonly identified feature of motorcycle injury at all ages. What is most interesting is that there has been a change in the demographics. More recent work, such as Savolainen and Mannering (2007) demonstrates that increasing age is now associated with increasing severity risk. This contrasts with the situation seen 20 years ago, where young riders dominated the injury toll. For example, Braddock et al. (1992) indicated that the death rates was highest amongst year olds, in New Zealand, Langley et al. (1994) highlighted the injuries incurred by young riders and in the US, Bueno et al. (1992) also highlighed young males, and suggested that risk taking behaviours may have been associated with the injuries. Most countermeasures have concentrated on factors that can be changed by the motorcyclist. Wells et al. (2004) reported that conspicuity was important,yuan (2000) reports on a Taiwan based study concerning daylight running lights which was not statistically significant. Nevertheless, sensory conspicuity (making the motorbike easier to distinguish from its background by daylight running lights or clothing choice) have been investigated in some depth, whereas cognitive conspicuity, the ability of others to interpret the actions of a motorcyclist have not been much influenced. The Hurt study showed that the car involved in a car - motorcycle collision was less likely to be familiar with motorcycles. This exploratory data analysis will confirm that violations of a motorcyclists right of way (by vehicles turning into or emerging from a side road) contribute considerably to the accident toll within Devon. Ideally the countermeasures considered will examine the potential of both potential collision participants to reduce the likelihood of a crash Alcohol Nelson et al. (2006) conducted a medical study of crashes involving deer in the US. The suggestion was made that riders should be subject to a lower alcohol limit due to the additional complexities of their transport. Sun et al. 11

12 (1998) has also suggested that troublesome levels of blood alcohol tended to be lower amongst injured motorcyclists and suggested lowering the limit. Holubowycz et al. (1994), based in Southern Australia noted that a higher alcohol was seen in single vehicle and weekend crashes. This is an issue that cannot be considered with STATs19 data as these only contain information on breath tests (i.e. pass fail relative to a threshold rather than absolute alcohol concentrations). Certainly, high levels of alcohol have been identified as a risk factor in many motorcycle crashes. Savolainen and Mannering (2007) found alcohol, speed, and roadway characterists were important risk factors. Peekasa and Kraus (1996a) highlighted alcohol content in injured Californian riders. Bolhofner et al. (1994) noted that 90% of injured motorcyclists in Florida were male, but that overall 36% had high blood alchohol levels Bike types Arzemanian et al. (1993) examined crash locations for racing and street type motorcyles, and found that they were similar. Although the number of crashes for racing type bikes is high, only 13 / 441 deaths were recorded as being related to a racing activity. Again, the STATs19 contain limited information on the type of motorcycle, and this is not an aspect that is easily studied. Quddus et al. (2002) noted risk factors for injury which also include large engine (as well as lack of daylight running lights), pillion riders. Interestingly, they suggested that crashes in which the motorcyclist was more blameworthy tended to be more serious than ones in which the other participant was more blameworthy. 2.4 Young riders That young riders are no longer the highest risk group for motorcycle mortality has already been noted. Much earlier work, such as Begg et al. (1992) identifed a number risk factors for young riders which have been addressed by legislation, although it remains the case that a strong link with risk taking 12

13 behaviour is very apprarent in this group (Everett et al., 2001). One choice related issue that has emerged in New Zealand (Langley et al., 2000) is that the engine size of a motorcycle has particularly strong implications for young riders. Most of the case-controlled road safety research recently appears to have originated from Australia or New Zealand. It would appear that riding rates are lower in the UK. In New Zealand, Reeder et al. (1995) found that 51% of adolescents could ride. When considering the non-riders, fear of injury was the reason 55% of them hadn t learnt to ride. According to this study, females less likely to wear personal protective equipment. Reeder et al. (1996) found that mothers were the main source of dissaproval towards motorcycling. In a motorcycling context, (Mullin et al. (2000)) consider age and experience as protective factors against motorcycle accident involvement. They suggest: ˆ the association between age and lower risk of motorcycle injury was confirmed ˆ little evidence that experience, either on a motorbike or in a car are protective once allowance has been made for age ˆ familiarity with the specific motorcycle is the only experience measure having a protective effect Mullin et al. (2000) therefore make some clear recommendations in relation to age; continuing the age stratification of licencing requirements, with the additional condition of introducing conditions that encourage use of a familiar machine. However, if there is evidence to support this locally, there is a clear role for increasing experience without necessarily the requirement to have particularly formal training sessions. It may therefore be possible to deliver training packages that have wider appeal Risk taking Reeder et al. (1996) emphasised that even young motorcyclists forms a very 13

14 heterogenous group, but commented (in New Zealand anyway) that early informal off-road training may have established innappropriate behavious that were subsequently transferred on road. In the US, Kraus et al. (1991) reported that non-owners were more likely to ride non-licenced, and that this was particularly apparent amongst young riders. Reeder et al. (1995) demonstrated the importance of unlicenced riding and borrowed bikes amongst young riders in New Zealand. Of 217 motorcyclists, 72% had borrowed a friends bike, 86% had ridden on public roads before being licenced. This puts later work on the importance of familiarity Mullin et al. (2000) with your machine into context and would be a fascinating piece of information to have for young Devon riders. A number of risk factors have been noted which are associated with increased crash severity. These include speed, but also in Taiwan rurality has been noted (Lin et al., 2003). Lin et al. (2003) identifed a high risk subgroup which included factors around age, experience and licence holding although none of these were statistically significant. Spain et al. (1997) emphasised alcohol alongside other risk taking behaviours and Middleman et al. (1995) commented on anabolic steroids being associated with high risk behaviour and motorcycle crash severity Socio-economic differentials One feature which emerges strongly from the published research globally is that there are constant socio-economic differences in terms of injury rates. Zambon and Hasselberg (2006) reports on a national Swedish cohort and found socio econonomic differences most pronounced in frst year of riding such that the lower SES were 20% more likely to be injured on a moped. This association with Socio-economic status seems to universal linkage, for example in Turkey Oksuz and Malhan (2005) an association was also seen (and it was proposed that it was mediated via high risk behaviours). 14

15 2.5 Changes in behaviour The psychological sequelae of road traffic injury (Mayou et al., 1993) are well documented, yet Lin et al. (2004), studying self reported behaviour in Taiwan found that previous crashes had no apparent effect on risk taking behaviour accoring. Mangus et al. (2004) also found that previous crashes had little influence on the use of personal protective equipment Behavioual research Swaddiwudhipong et al. (1998) report a Taiwanese educational intervention, unfortunately the study is rather small and although the results appear promising they are too small to claim significance. There appears to be little other work formally published evaluating educational interventions on rider safety. Rutter et al. (1998) describe a natioanal postal survey of motorcyclists which revealed that UK motorcyclists tended to have an over-optimistic view of the risk they were exposed to. There was some realism, in that younger riders and prolific risk takers were aware that they were more at risk that the average motorcyclist, albeit their assessments of their risk and average risk were wildly over-optimistic. Personal knowledge of another motorcyclist who had been killed or seriously injured increased their assessments of overall risk, without altering the over-optimistic assessment of their own riding ability. The most significant finding of this work was that higher assesment of risk at time 1 predicted higher levels of safety abandonment at time 2. There are some clear cautions in this work as to how elevating riders sense of risk could be counter-productive. There is some Australian data available via the LTSN at Glasgow University. A data set intended for undergraduate projects is described. The original project was conducted in Australia as an attempt to determine whether riders premiums should increase or not following an accident. In effect this was meant to indicate whether riders learnt from an accident. By question- 15

16 naire, riders were asked: ˆ Time subject has ridden a motorcycle for ˆ Had accident, Never had accident ˆ Time until first accident occurred ˆ Size of bike ridden in first accident ˆ Injured in first accident, not injured ˆ Had second accident, no second accident ˆ Time until second accident occurred ˆ Size of bike ridden in second accident ˆ Injured in second accident, not injured However, there is much more careful and detailed research available. In E.S.P.R.C. funded research, Horswill and Helman (2001) set up laboratories to assess driving and riding behaviour, and compared matched groups of motorcyclists and car drivers in a laboratory setting simulating car driving and riding a bike and also subjected the particpants to a battery of standard tests in relation to attitudes, sensation seeking and so on (for which the partipants were given 15). In total, they compared three demographically matched groups, motorcyclists riding simulated motorbikes, motorcyclists driving simulated cars and car drivers driving simulated cars. They suggested that there was little difference between the groups in terms of general measures of sensation seeking and social motives, or attitudes towards driving and riding. The differences were found amongst riders when riding a machine such that: ˆ Motorcyclists on laboratory motorcycles took more risks in terms of speed / attitudes and gap acceptance / overtaking than either of the other two groups. 16

17 ˆ Motorcyclists in laboratory cars took less risks with gap acceptance / overtaking than car-drivers. It was noted that there were significant numbers of motorcycling enthusiasts in the study group, and that overall the study group had a younger than average and higher milage than average membership, also containing larger numbers of advanced trained drivers / riders than may have been anticipated. This tends to suggest that motorcyclists may not be an aberrant group, but that they may exhibit slightly riskier behaviour when riding. 2.6 Ongoing U.K. research There are a number of current research projects which have a bearing on analysis of motorcycle accidents. It may be useful to summarising current DfT projects, and closely related work to see where there is overlap or potential for some collaborative working Looked but failed to see patterns DfT project S240M examines Looked but Failed to See accident causations. The study has been commissioned with a literature review, and to examine whether the phenomena is genuine. If there is evidence to support the existence of this phenomena the project obviously aims to see whether it is amenable to research. If amenable to research, the project would be conducted with a view to developing countermeasures. The project was let to Ivan Brown associates and was due for completion in November Martin Langham and Graham Hole of the University of Sussex are also interested in Looked but Failed to See errors. Based on analysis of Sussex Police data, they have suggested that motorcycle accidents involving another vehicle tend to occur at uncontrolled junctions in uncongested urban environments. Within that, they have suggested that they believe T junctions are over-represented but roundabouts are under-represented. Examination of 17

18 the driver involved in the accident suggests that there is no peak amongst younger drivers, which they suggest implies that this causation has a proneness that does not reduce with experience. They further suggested that studies from fatal accident records imply that conspicuity enhancers do significantly reduce the chances of a serious accident but there evidence for this is not given. Their research suggests that looked but failed to see is a reflection of the rarity of two wheel motorvehicles on the road, and drivers being unaccustomed to having to check for their presence before initiating a manoeuvre. This is rather different to other theories that suggest looked but failed to see is characterised by a subconcious assessment of the risk the other object poses to the driver Older motorcyclists Leeds University have been awarded project S501B The Older Motorcyclist. This project was let on the premise that killed and seriously injured casuatlties amongst riders in the age group have increased gradually in the last decade. Other than age, little information is available on rider characteristics particularly in relation to skills, experience history or exposure and this project seeks to remedy this knowledge gap Multivariate analysis Project S501F Multivariate analysis of Existing data on factors affecting the accident risk of Motorcyclists is mentioned but few details are given, likewise there is a project listed, S501G, Scoping study on Motorcycle Training to review the content and practice of existing training provision and identify gaps in knowledge. These two projects have the greatest potential for overlap with the work initiated here. Although few details are given, it may be possible that Project S501F wishes to use the methodology of Mullin et al. (2000). 18

19 2.6.4 In-depth study New project, S501A, In-depth study of motorcycle and work-related accidents has been let to Nottingham University, and intends to take a detailed analysis of police road accident files sampled from Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire forced for 3-5 years and will focus on fatal and serious accidents with under-sampling of slight accidents. The aims of the research are to identify the incidence of particular factors such as errors, violations or riding style by age, gender, experience, type of vehicle, manoeuvre, time and location type. It also aims to identify potential countermeasures and estimate their effectiveness and to report all this work in an accessible manner. As with the previous two studies, there is some potential for overlap with the work initiated here On-the-spot study Finally, one particularly interesting project, the On the Spot Study is being run by from Loughborough and Crowthorne. Despite repeated attempts to make contact, it has not been possible to speak with the project manager to discuss the possibility of some collaborative work. 2.7 Aims Despite the current focus on behavioural issues, this report will examine perceptions of external risks (highways conditions) and align this with rider perceptions. Anecdotally there has been much discussion of riding lines around corners, yet for example Matthes et al. (2007) reported that most tree crashes happen on straight roads. In doing this, it will be useful to make use of a crash typology. Kim et al. (2002) developed a typology of crashes for use in Hawaii. This report will consider a related typology. In medical based research, we note for example that Peekasa and Kraus (1996b) found that, with the exception of head on 19

20 collisions, approaching turn crashes were the most serious and it is therefore useful to understand the crash types. 20

21 Chapter 3 Overview Figure 3.1 shows a large decline in reported serious crashes, reported fatal crashes look fairly constant - this in confirmed by zooming in on fatals only in figure

22 Slight Damage Only Reported crashes 400 Fatal Serious Year Figure 3.1: Medium term Devon Trends 22

23 15 Reported Crashes Year Figure 3.2: Medium term Devon Trends - fatalities only 23

24 All Fatal Collisions Figure 3.3: All fatal collisions reported 24

25 Part II Exploratory Data Analysis 25

26 Chapter 4 Motorcycle crashes Initially, this stage of the report will consider the circumstances around reported crashes involving motorcycles. Seasonal / temporal patterns are the easiest to examine, and this is done first. 4.1 Weekly and daily patterns Figure 4.1 and figure 4.2 contrast the weekday crash patterns from before and after The patterns are similar; it would appear that slight crashes are most common on weekdays whereas it is difficult to immediately see any obvious pattern regarding fatalities. Figure refdayhour is a filled contour plot which illustrates a further detail concerning the time patterns involved in motorcycle crashes. It can be seen for example that on weekdays the reported crashes follow the rush hour. A different pattern is seen at weekends where crashes during the day become more dominant. Conversely, figure 4.4, which only examines fatal crashes, suggests that Sunday afternoons have been the most common time for fatal collisions involving motorcycles. 26

27 Fatal Serious Slight Damage Only Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Figure 4.1: Collisions by weekday by severity from 2002 onwards 27

28 Fatal Serious Slight Damage Only Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Figure 4.2: Collisions by weekday by severity before 2002 legend( topleft, col = c( red, orange, green, grey ), legend = c( Fatal, Serious, Slight, Damage Only ), ncol = 4) 28

29 Dec Nov Oct Sep Aug Jul Jun May Apr Mar Feb Jan Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Figure 4.3: Day and time patterns 29

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