I've posted several times about how bikers, in general, are more careful and responsible motorists than car drivers. So I was surprised by this report in The Scotsman:
The rising toll of motorcycle deaths will dominate a three-day road safety conference starting tomorrow.Sounds dire on a first read, but closer inspection suggests The Scotsman has merely bought into alarmism over the U.K.'s "rising toll" of deaths from motorcycle accidents.
Safety experts will discuss ways of reducing biker deaths which increased 14% between 2002 and 2003.
The total number of deaths in road accidents, although well down on the worst years in the 1950s and 1960s, also rose – slightly – in 2003.
RoSPA’s [Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents] head of road safety Kevin Clinton said: “Despite superb progress in road safety generally in recent years, the number of deaths has stopped falling and we don’t want to see last year’s rise becoming a trend. We need to redouble our efforts to improve driver behaviour and motorcycle safety.
First, the article points out that motorcycling deaths are actually "well down" since the 50's and 60's.
Second, by revealing only the percentage increase in deaths, not the real-number increase, the problem is made to seem bigger than it may actually be. Assuming the number of deaths must be a positive integer, the 14% increase could reflect a rise of as few as seven additional deaths throughout the whole of 2003.
And third, Mr. Clinton' comments imply that 2003 marked the first annual rise in deaths in many years. But it's only natural that the number of motorcycling deaths would rise after a long period of decline. Statisticians call this phenomenon "reversion to the mean". Basically, it means that trends don't go on forever. Given the large number of people riding, there will always be some number of deaths in any given year. If the previous year's tally was very low, then chances are the next year's will be at least slightly higher.
The information provided by the Scotsman article, without more, provides no reason to believe that motorcycle riding in Britain has become any more dangerous than it was in recent years.