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The potential impact of electric bikes on bike accident rates

In the recent annual report by the Department for Transport (DfT) published in May 2022, the number of accidents and fatalities for 2021 was released, including a breakdown of the number and percentage of bikers, cyclists, and occupants of vehicles.

The average number of motorcyclists involved in accidents over the period of 2017-19 was 17,028 a year. In 2020, the year Covid hit, there was a reduction in accidents to 13,604, and the recent provisional results for 2021 show an increase to 15,724.

Motorbike fatalities over the period of 2017-19 was 346 a year. In 2020, the year Covid hit, there was a reduction to 285 and 2021 saw a slight increase to 299.

Based on the overall figures, the general trend is that bikers comprise of less than 1% of all road traffic accidents, but account for around 20% of fatalities.

Whilst the numbers are down based on pre-Covid levels, there has still been 584 fatalities on motorbikes over the last 2 years.  It is a shocking statistic, but one which we hope can reduce with increased awareness of other road users watching out for bikers on the road and improved technology to aid the protection of bikers.

Unsurprisingly the trend shows that during the Covid pandemic, the number of road accidents reduced.  But as the country has opened back up and we have returned to daily living, and with road users back up to full capacity, accidents are now on the increase again.

Looking longer term, it is interesting to consider how the move to electric bikes may impact the number of accidents on the road.

Electric vehicles differ from fossil fuel equivalents in that they have instant power and torque. The acceleration is instant rather than building, so the skill levels of drivers and riders will need to adapt to the change.  But will they be able to do so quickly enough, or will this lead to more accidents?

The lack of noise from electric vehicles is also a different dimension. Part of a warning to car drivers is that they can hear the noise of the engine approaching which acts as a warning.  Without that, is there likely to be an increase in vehicles moving across the path of bikes, or will manufacturers build in a replica noise? There are so many variables to consider, and we will be closely watching any changes in the market.

The number of e-bike accidents are on the rise, and may hint at an increase, however there is a distinct difference between a motorbike moving steadily with traffic and an e-bike being passed hundreds of times on each trip. The data is not yet detailed enough to show the difference between electric motorbikes and the old school fossil fuel motorbikes.  Rest assured, Minster Law will be on hand to provide you with any support you need, should you be unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.