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September 10th 2021

Accidents & Illness Abroad

UK v EU motorcycle accident statistics – why you should be wary riding in Greece

Anthony Hey

Anthony Hey

Litigation Executive, Travel

UK v EU motorcycle accident statistics – why you should be wary riding in Greece

As part of our motorcycle accident awareness campaign this summer, we have highlighted the risks faced by bikers every time they get in their saddle – but how does the UK compare to the European Union when it comes to motorbike crash statistics?

As part of our motorcycle accident awareness campaign this summer, we have highlighted the risks faced by bikers every time they get in their saddle – but how does the UK compare to the European Union when it comes to motorbike crash statistics?

Motorcyclists account for around 19 per cent of all road deaths in the UK, while in the EU this figure is lower at 15.5 per cent, according to the 2020 European Road Safety Observatory report from the European Commission.

That report showed that out of 22,722 road deaths in 2018, 3,526 were motorcyclists – meaning 10 riders are killed a day on EU roads on average. Furthermore, 664 moped riders were killed on the roads in the same year.

As the world slowly starts to reopen amid the Covid-19 pandemic, more people are taking the plunge to travel abroad so it is important to be mindful if you are planning to ride to the EU or hire a moped or motorcycle when you arrive.

The EU countries with the highest number of motorcycle fatalities in 2018 were Italy (687), France (627), Germany (619), Spain (359), Poland (238) and Greece (190) – with the UK at 354 for the same year.

However, between 2010 and 2018 all EU nations saw a decrease in motorcycle deaths except Austria (up 22 per cent to 102), with Greece seeing the biggest decline (down 40 per cent to 190) – while the UK saw a 17 per cent reduction in the same period.

But despite this reduction in fatalities, Greece is still a country with a significantly higher proportion of motorcycle casualties than its EU neighbours.

The average number of motorcycle fatalities per million inhabitants for the whole of the EU is 7.9, however Greece has more than double this number at 20.0 – a figure much higher than the next highest in the list Cyprus (14.8), Italy (11.4), Croatia (10.8), Austria (10.3) and Slovenia (10.2).

Why does Greece have such a high proportion of motorcycle accidents?

Greek lawyer Georgios Natsinas advises Hudgell Solicitors in relation to people who are injured when travelling in Greece and has seen many cases over the years involving motorcyclists and moped riders.

He said: “After almost a quarter of a century experience, I strongly believe that the main cause of motorcycle injuries in Greece is that riders and passengers fail to wear a safety helmet.

“By law, you must wear, preferably, a full-face one. If you are given one by a third party, reassure yourself that it has not expired and fits you correctly.

“Failure to wear a helmet is an offence and above all might invalidate your travel as well as your motor insurance. In the event of any accident, you may also get charged with full or partial liability and may not be compensated even if the accident is not your fault.

“Also, Greek islands’ roads are narrow and precipitous. Asphaltic rocks used for the road surface easily lose their friction properties and the surface is far more slippery than in England, especially when wet.

“Finally, Greek drinks, like beer, are stronger than in the UK and you can easily go over the legal limit, so do not drink and drive!”

Why do southern EU countries have higher motorcycle fatality rates?

Motorcycle mortality rates are higher in the south of the EU than in other parts of the region for a reason – there are more motorcycles or mopeds (known as powered two-wheelers or PTWs) used in these areas.

There were an estimated 23 million motorcycles in 31 European countries according to 2013 figures from the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM).

Seven countries had more than one million motorcycles, with Italy having the most at 6.5 million ahead of Germany (3.8 million), Spain (2.9 million), France (1.7 million) and Greece (1.6 million). The UK’s figure at the time was 1.1 million.

According to a 2020 survey by the European Survey Research Association (ESRA), 23 per cent of Greeks and 21 per cent of Italians made a trip on a PTW in 2018 – whereas the average percentage for the 20 countries that took part was down at 13 per cent.

Portugal and Greece, meanwhile, have the highest proportion of moped fatalities.

What else do EU motorbike accident statistics show?

  • 57 per cent of motorbike deaths in the EU happened on rural roads.
  • 90 per cent of motorcycle fatalities were male.
  • 77 per cent of motorcyclists and 50 per cent of moped riders are aged between 25 and 64 years old.
  • The 2018 European Commission report showed there were 11 motorcycle deaths per 100,000 registered motorcycles, compared to five car occupant deaths per 100,000 registered cars in 2015 in Europe.
  • In July there are 6.5 times more motorcycle fatalities than in February.

What to do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident abroad?

If you have been involved in a motorbike crash in the EU which wasn’t your fault, it is important to seek expert advice from a specialist accident abroad lawyer to find out if you could make a claim for compensation as the law concerning road traffic accidents is different depending on the country.

Anthony Hey, Litigation Executive in our Travel team at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “Having a father who rode motorbikes when I was growing up, I can understand the appeal of riding in the UK and especially abroad.

“However, accidents can easily happen, especially in a foreign country where people may not be as familiar with the roads and local laws.

“While I want people to enjoy their motorbikes, I would like them to take extra precaution as we move to a ‘new normal’ and especially when visiting other countries.”

Related Articles

Making a road traffic accident abroad claim

2020 European Road Safety Observatory report from the European Commission

UK Motorcycle accident statistics – Bikers 50 times more at risk than car drivers

Five things you need to know if you come across an injured motorcycle rider

When protective clothing made a difference in a motorcycle accident

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