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Motorcyclists are safer road users: survey

British motorcyclists
British motorcyclists are safest road users

A British survey has found what many motorcyclists already believe – that they are safer than car drivers and know the road rules better.

Motorcyclists recently went head-to-head against car drivers as they were subjected to a retake of the theory exam. The results of the survey by specialist British insurance brokers Carole Nash found that when it comes to road knowledge, two wheels are definitely better than four.

Based on the official Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency (DVSA) quiz, it has revealed that those who own a motorbike licence fared better than their four-wheeled counterparts in 76% of instances – and more shockingly, that nearly one in five (16%) motorists would potentially fail their test were they to retake it, as opposed to only 6% of bikers.

Motorcyclists road signs
Road signs in Surrey England

The research has highlighted road sign recognition as a major concern. Given eight to identify, car drivers finished behind riders in six categories and while 83% of bikers were able to correctly identify all eight test signs, only 67% of car drivers were able to replicate the feat.

When it came to other areas of road safety, motorcyclists beat car users eight times out of 10. For instance, 92% of riders knew the correct answer to the question “When may you cross a double solid white line in the middle of the road?” (to pass a road maintenance vehicle travelling at 10mph or less) as opposed to 71% of car drivers.

Rebecca Donohue, Head of Marketing for Carole Nash, said: “Motorcyclists scored so highly because they must have their wits about them at all times. It’s certainly an exhilarating way to travel, but it can also prove risky unless you are fully aware of everything around you and the rules of the road at all times.

“But more importantly, our study revealed that a rather considerable proportion of car drivers still do not know how to interpret and react to certain everyday road situations involving motorcyclists – something we believe should be addressed as soon as possible.”

Only 34% of car drivers were able to accurately point out the sign indicating that special care should be taken when overtaking a slow-moving motorbike.


Additionally, four out of 10 car drivers failed to showcase their understanding of why one should allow extra room when overtaking a motorcyclist on a windy day (the rider may be blown across in front of your vehicle). Unsurprisingly, riders scored very highly for both questions (89% and 95% respectively).

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA)’s Safety and Training Director, Karen Cole, said: “Many motorcyclists are also car drivers and what this survey shows is that experiencing the road using different modes of transport makes you a safer road user. This endorses the idea that motorcycling should be encouraged as a long-term strategy to improve road safety.

“This was one of the main proposals explored in a policy document written jointly by the National Police Chief’s Council and the MCIA (Motorcycle Industry Association).  It also supports our call for a single theory test for drivers and riders.”

Following a preliminary round of research conducted last year, Carole Nash introduced a new policy titled Bikers Only Car Insurance, whereby the company is guaranteeing not simply to match but to beat motorcyclists’ car insurance renewal quote, based on the premises that they make safer road users.