Why We Exist

Why We Exist

Before DocBike became a charity, the project was set up by Dr Ian Mew, an air ambulance Intensive Care Consultant and PC Chris Smith QPM, a police motorcyclist, advanced police motorcycle instructor and Family Liaison Officer with Dorset Police. 

Both recognised that more lives could be saved by investing time and effort in preventing motorcyclists from being involved in a collision, than trying to pick up the pieces and support the loved ones and families of motorcyclists after they had crashed. 

  • 6 Motorcyclists will be killed on average every week in the UK 
  • 94 Motorcyclists will be seriously injured every week in the UK 
  • Over 19,000 Motorcyclists are injured every year in the UK 

Motorcyclists account for 1% of the miles travelled on the UK roads, but because they lack the roll cages, the seat belt tensioners, the crumple zones and air bags, they make up between 18-25% of the deaths and serious injuries. Motorcyclists aren’t involved in more collisions that car drivers, they just come off much worse when they do. 

Injury prevention is woefully behind the curve in the UK. Our society is set up to pick up the pieces, to respond to incidents rather than to prevent them from happening in the first place; but we believe passionately that we can make a difference and redress this balance. With your help, we will. 

What the data says

DocBike uses research and evidence base to formulate its approach to preventing motorcycle collisions from happening in the future. 

In 2015, a pilot study took data of seriously injured motorcyclists (Injury Severity Score >15 or died) and cross referenced the incident with the police collision investigation. In 74% of all collisions which resulted in the motorcyclists death or an ISS>15 serious injury; the crash could have been avoided all together, if we had equipped the motorcyclists with the abilities to recognise the warning signs when they’re riding and give them the skills to avoid the crash. This number increases to 81% when accounting for motorcycles of over 500cc, the predominant group involved in serious crashes. 

This doesn’t mean that the motorcyclist is entirely to blame. Often they have the right of way, but through the last module on a BikerDown course, a BikeSafe course or by encouraging riders to become more skilful in their riding, we can give them the knowledge, awareness and abilities to avoid a collision, even when it’s not their fault. 

It really could happen to anyone!

In August 2019, Luke Van de Sande, a 28 year old Police Officer, sadly lost his life on a motorcycle whilst off duty, out with his friends and riding for pleasure. Luke was a very experienced rider, had ridden all types of motorcycles with varying engine sizes and had been trained to ‘blue-light’ standards for his driving. Luke had his dream job, a beautiful wife, a family who he adored and they in return adored him. He was an amazing person, with the ability to make people happy. He was a joker and touched the hearts of everyone around him. Yet on 28th August 2019, Luke misjudged a bend, crashed through a fence hitting a tree and instantly died. 

This sadly is a common theme. In a pilot research project looking at two years of motorcyclists who were killed or critically injured in Dorset, over half of the riders were aged 40-60, so it’s not just the inexperienced who crash.

We can make a difference!

There are factors which riders can be made aware of that will massively reduce their chances of being knocked off of their bike. Bizarrely, these are things that aren’t necessarily taught in preparation for the standard motorcycle test. Our unique research combining Trauma Audit & Research Network data with police collision investigation data suggests that between 74-81% of serious or fatal motorcycle collisions could be avoided if the rider knew the warning signs and has the skills to change their riding when they do so, thus avoiding the collision altogether.  

DocBike works to raise awareness amongst all motorcyclists to these factors, encourages them to take part in BikerDown and BikeSafe courses and to up-skill their riding through advanced courses and thus reduce the risks of them being involved in a collision in the future. 

Removing the human factor

DocBike has research and evidence base behind everything that we do. Working with lecturers in human psychology, we understand that the human brain, designed for the caveman that we really are, is only able to track objects travelling up to around 30mph. Our search strategies are poor at looking for motorcyclists with saccadic scanning missing large chunks of our environment as we look from left to right. Simply put, the odds are against us when cars and motorcyclists are out on the roads together. 

By working with innovation in automotive industry, DocBike is actively looking an engineering the ‘human error’ factor out of motorcycle collisions, but ensuring that the freedom and enjoyment that motorcycling brings is every bit preserved. We want to use car technology to help identify motorcycles as they approach and reduce the harm that is caused if a motorcyclist is struck by a car. By engineering out the human factor, we hope to really eradicate all motorcycle deaths and serious injuries from the roads in the UK and in time, the world.