On September 13 last year a former Lancashire Police colleague of mine, Inspector Dave Mangan, was on a motorcycle ride in Somerset with his 72-year-old father, Mike.
On the last 10 miles of a 320-mile journey, Mike attempted to overtake a car when he crashed into an oncoming van.
Mike died of his injuries at the scene and his family believes that tiredness was a contributory factor. Dave has courageously made a very moving video telling the story of this tragic event. The video is called ‘Mike’s last ride’; it’s well worth viewing and can be found on YouTube.
The important message of the video is to remind motorcyclists that towards the end of a long drive they may lose concentration and in order to avoid errors of judgment they need to adjust their riding to the conditions.
There are hundreds of motorcycling deaths each year in the UK and the highest group at risk are men aged between 35 and 55 riding bikes over 125 cc.
The causes behind these fatal collisions vary and can of course include loss of concentration, speed, the weather and the fault of other motorists.
Also, having a midlife crisis and trying to recapture your youth can lead to tragedy. I’m now in my fifties and I occasionally dream of buying the latest Triumph Bonneville and a new set of bike leathers. There’s nothing wrong in dreaming but I was 17 years old when I passed my bike test on a 120cc Suzuki.
The test involved me making a few left turns around a particular route and then right turns around the same route. At some point the examiner, who was attempting to hide behind a lamp post jumped out in front of me to test my ability to do an emergency stop.
It was a very easy test and although I haven’t ridden a motorcycle since I was 19, I still have a driving licence that allows me to ride any motorcycle.
I accept that the majority of motorcyclists, who passed this style of test, are safe riders due to years of experience. It just seems wrong that someone like me, who hasn’t ridden in years, can on a whim lawfully ride an extremely powerful motorcycle.
There may be fewer motorbike fatalities if the DVLA ran a campaign to encourage inexperienced riders, who passed the old style test, to voluntarily hand in their motorbike licences.