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New campaign to halt biker deaths

PUBLISHED: 09:49 27 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:46 03 July 2010

An £80,000 campaign to improve motorcycle safety was launched on Friday as figures show that riders account for a quarter of the deaths and crashes on Norfolk's roads - despite making up only 1pc of traffic.

An £80,000 campaign to improve motorcycle safety was launched on Friday as figures show that riders account for a quarter of the deaths and crashes on Norfolk's roads - despite making up only 1pc of traffic.

Road safety campaigners are embarking on the four-month initiative after previous schemes failed to deliver the dramatic falls in deaths or accidents achieved among other road users.

Key to that is “Hugger” a cartoon style character who will spearhead the advertising and marketing campaign, on newspapers, radio and buses.

The campaign will also include targeted messages to encourage riders to boost their skills and training on two wheels, and a competition to find the county's best motorcyclist.

Taking his name from a rear mudguard, the hope is that Hugger will become an instantly recognisable road safety symbol - and also help soften the bikers' image.

In Norfolk 13 motorcyclists were killed last year compared to 15 in 2007, while serious injuries did show a fall from 125 to 89, and slight injury incidents fell to 250 to 244.

Now the Think! Norfolk partnership, made up of the emergency services and county council, is to spend the next four months on a re-education and training campaign.

Guy McCurley, chairman of Motorcyclists said measures to boost safety such as the appointment of a dedicated motorcycle safety officer were starting to bear fruit, but more must be done.

“Motorcyclists are vulnerable to the actions of every road user from pedestrians to bigger vehicles,” he said. “They present a particularly stubborn number of casualties on Norfolk's roads that we have struggled for some time to make a dramatic impact on. It's really tragic that each year riders are either killed or seriously injured and we are determined to do what we can to promote safety.”

In urban areas responsibility for crashes is split 50-50 between bikers and car drivers, but in rural areas 70pc of crashes are caused by motorcyclists with speed and left-hand bends a particular issue.

Andy Micklethwaite, the council's motorcycle road safety officer said the aim was to tackle some myths in the minds of riders and other road users about what causes bike accidents.

“The causes of the crash are wide and varied and there's no pattern,” he said. “There's a misconception that the car driver is the greatest threat, but that's not borne out by the statistics.”

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