Police launch #OpDarwen Motorcycle Safety Campaign 2024

A campaign aimed at reducing the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads is now underway across North Wales.

The annual Operation Darwen campaign runs from early Spring through until the autumn, covering a period that sees the highest number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured. The campaign is aimed at promoting rider safety and will see high visibility patrols being carried out along key routes which have been identified as risk areas.

Over the coming months, officers from the Roads Crime Unit will be on active patrol across the region and will also be engaging with riders at popular biker meeting spots.

As part of the campaign officers will also be checking that bikes are roadworthy, paying particular attention to tyres. Worn or under inflated tyres on motorcycles have been one of the most common themes during collisions, and yet is easily prevented by riders doing basic checks.

Motorcyclists are amongst the most vulnerable groups of road users, and they are at a higher risk of injury and collision than other road users. Although a motorcyclist may not be at fault, their vulnerability invariably means that they suffer more serious injuries in a collision.

2023 saw 89 motorcyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) in North Wales, a 3.4% increase from the previous year and 24% higher than figures seen in 2021 and 21% higher than 2019. The total number of motorcyclist fatalities in 2023 was 8 (an increase of 33% from the previous year).

Motorcycle casualties are highly represented in the overall casualty figures, and on average represent 32% of all killed or seriously injured casualties within the region – an increase of 5%. Proportionally, KSI motorcycles have seen an increase year on year and is the highest it has been since 2020.

Chief Inspector Caroline Mullen-Hurst of North Wales Police’ Operational Support Services said: “Reducing casualties on our roads remains one of our top priorities. We will focus our enforcement in an attempt to reduce any further casualties and collisions by adopting a zero-tolerance approach.

“We look at all motorists as part of the Op Darwen campaign, however during the spring and summer months, increased focus is given to motorcycle safety as larger numbers of motorcyclists take their bikes out to take advantage of the good weather and fantastic scenery we have here in North Wales.

“We want people to enjoy travelling on some great roads here in north Wales but not at the expense of other road users. We want everybody to ride and drive safely and responsibly. Whilst the vast majority of motorists ride or drive appropriately, we’ll continue to focus on, with a view to prosecution, those that ride or drive dangerously, at excess speed, overtake on solid white lines or commit any other road traffic offences. This includes the use of small number plates and illegal visors.

“We, as the police, want everyone to enjoy the roads of North Wales as they become busier and are shared between all different types of road users.

“Sadly, our officers, as well as partners from other emergency services, see far too many preventable tragedies on the roads. Staying safe on the road applies to every single one of us, whether we have two or four wheels on our vehicle. I would urge riders and drivers to think about their behaviour and what changes they could make to improve their own safety and that of other road users.

“Op Darwen is not about spoiling people’s enjoyment of riding but encourages all road users to be safe and competent with the aim of reducing the number of collisions on our roads.”

Sergeant Jason Diamond, Operational Lead for Op Darwen said: “We know that North Wales is a magnet for motorcyclists due to the beauty of the area, and as a keen biker myself, I know that I and my fellow motorcyclist colleagues not only understand the risks, but we are passionate about how we can work together to reduce collisions.

“Every death and serious injury on our roads has a devastating impact, so we’ll use every available opportunity to speak to riders about how they can play their part in reducing the number of deaths or serious injuries on the roads. This includes travelling at an appropriate speed for the road and conditions, wearing suitably rated protective clothing and helmet and being understanding of the effects that any amount of alcohol and/or drugs could have on a rider and driver.

“We’re not trying to stop motorcyclists from riding on the roads, we’re trying to stop them from dying on them. Come here – ride safe, go home and repeat. Come here, ride dangerously, lose your licence – or your life. It’s your choice.”

Sgt Diamond added: “I understand that there are collisions where riders are not at fault, but if we can educate riders to lift observations, think about what may be around the next bend, have appropriate speed for hazards, then at least that will also have a positive impact on reducing conflict with other motorists.  I can also say without hesitation that drivers will be treated the same if they are unable to abide by the rules of the road.”

Using the strapline Will you get home tonight special goody bags – containing leaflets signposting further training, a buff/snood and a keyring will be distributed as part of the campaign. Coffee cup sleeves with a QR code which links to the Op Darwen page on the North Wales Police website have also been distributed at popular cafes, and working in partnership with the local authorities and the National Park campaign messages will be placed at key locations across the busy biker hot spot areas.

All motorists are urged to be extra vigilant for motorcycles during their journeys and ensure they give sufficient room when following bikers. Similarly, drivers are reminded to continually check for motorcycles when moving off, or when emerging from junctions.

Riders also have an important role to play in ensuring their own safety by travelling at an appropriate speed for the road, weather and traffic conditions, wearing high-visibility clothing and always wearing a helmet and other appropriate attire.

North Wales Police is encouraging bikers to ensure their machines are ready for the months ahead – paying particular attention to tyres and brakes.

Motorcyclists are also urged to take advantage of the BikeSafe workshops which are planned for the year.

Tuesday, 02 April 2024