An operation aimed at reducing motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads of North Wales began on Easter weekend.
Operation Darwen is a force-wide campaign which runs from Easter through until early autumn which is aimed at motorcycle safety and reducing casualties on our roads.
Historically high numbers of motorcyclists descend onto North Wales due to the challenging nature of the roads in areas of outstanding natural beauty such as Snowdonia.
Motorcyclists are more at risk of being killed or seriously injured in a road traffic collision than any other road user, representing 1% of road traffic but accounting for 18% of all fatalities.
Chief Inspector Darren Wareing from North Wales Police’ Roads Policing Unit said there was an increase in fatalities and serious injuries on the roads in the area: “One of the most worrying emerging trends is motorcyclists who have been impaired by alcohol and/or drugs which is a concern for us.
“Motorcycle casualties are the only group which has shown a continuing increase from last year – overall KSI motorcycle casualties have experienced a 189% increase – from 9 to 26.
“Operation Darwen is one of many campaigns and initiatives that we run throughout the year targeting high-risk road users. It is not about alienating the motorcycling community – it is about education and enforcement.
“Whilst the vast majority of motorcyclists ride appropriately, some riders choose to use the roads as a racetrack, committing serious breaches of road safety legislation, such as speeding and riding dangerously thereby putting themselves and other road users at risk of death or life changing injury.”
“We are committed to keeping people safe on the roads of North Wales - we want them to enjoy the roads but most of all we want them to ride safely and responsibly.
“Responsible riders are welcome to visit the area and take in the stunning scenery and landscape, but even they face risk of death or serious injury by underestimating the risk posed by fatigue brought on by a combination of driving long distances and concentrating on navigating challenging and unfamiliar routes.
“I would also urge bikers to take the opportunity to enhance their skills through training and attend the free Bikesafe workshops. Bikesafe is an accredited scheme which is run nationally by police forces which aims to reduce motorcycling casualties.
He added: “We will continue to target, with a view to prosecution, all those that ride or drive dangerously, at excess speed, overtake on solid white lines or commit any other road traffic offences. Please heed the warning.”
Throughout the campaign Bikesafe representatives will also be out and about speaking to riders and promoting the Bikesafe initiative which offer, subject to a booking fee, free workshops in North Wales. A number of Bikesafe engagement days have been organised for the summer months including visits to the Ponderosa, Betws-y-Coed, Corwen and Llangollen.
Police and partners – including the Fire and Rescue Service, Welsh Ambulance Service, Trunk Roads Agency, Gwynedd Council, Snowdonia National Park, Bikesafe and Go Safe recently launched the A494 Road Safety initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the dangers facing motorists, in particular motorcyclists who have made up nearly 60% of fatalities and serious injuries on the road which stretches from Hawarden in the north east through to Dolgellau in the north west.