Motorcyclists '23% better' behind the wheel of a car

Finally, a leading insurer’s data shows what we’ve all know for years – we are safer behind the wheel than non-motorcyclists

Posted: 12 November 2013
by Steve Farrell

How many ride bikes too? Evidence suggests we'd be safer if more did

MOTORCYCLISTS are 23% safer behind the wheel of a car than non-motorcyclists, according to a leading insurer.

Equity Red Star compared car drivers to car users who also have an insured motorcycle, and found the latter 23% less likely on average to make a claim on their car policy.

The firm also adjusted the figures to take into account the different typical ages of car drivers and motorcyclists, and still found the riders to be 21% better behind the wheel. The results showed motorcyclists were 20% less likely to make a bodily injury claim on their car policy.

The insurer examined 200 million policies between 2007 and 2012.

Rob Clark, Equity Red Star’s Head of Retail Motor, said: “A motorcyclist could, behind the wheel of a car, be said to be 23% better.”

Clark presented the data yesterday at a conference organised by the Motorcycle Industry Association to examine evidence that increasing the number of motorcyclists on the road could actually improve safety.

The conference was held in the offices of the Department for Transport in London.

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Discuss this story

Surprised it is only 23%.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 11:20

Bet we still won't get a discount for it though :rolleyes:

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 11:58

Only confirms what we've all known for years.
You have to be more aware otherwise you wouldn't survive on a bike, unlike a car with its 4 wheels and inbuilt safety.
And gives credence to the idea that motorists would be better drivers if they spent some time on two wheels. Now we can put a figure to it.
Nice one Equity Red Star. Now give us our discount and please widely publicise these figures.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 13:11

I think that “A motorcyclist could, behind the wheel of a car, be said to be 23% better.” is a dangerous statement to be making. Being 23% less likely to make a claim doesn't make you 23% better. There are lots of other factors; you can't ride a bike and drive a car at the same time, so you're reducing your exposure to risk of a car claim if you're also travelling by bike.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 13:17

Compulsory CBT as part of the driving Test - said it for years.

Also this data won't stop insurers penalising riders for claims on their car policies by other, named drivers. I actually had a bike policy cancelled because of my wife's fender bender in a supermarket car parks!

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 13:22

Probably because loads of lunatic motorcyclists have been killed on their bikes and their next of kin has forgotten to cancel their car policy. Weaving around cars like they own the road, calling it "Filtering", as if that makes it ok. I call it "Committing a criminal offence"

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 13:47

i agree with Ayo about the CBT as part o fthe driving test. would definatly make a difference!

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:03

not sure what point Luser 89776898 is trying to make. He sounds a bit angry to me :-(

Can you tell us something we don't know please.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:09

Blaming motorcyclists for all the 'i'lls' on the road is ludicrous, there are just as many if not more vehicle drivers out there who claim the road as their own and do as they please.

Filtering isn't a bad concept as long as you do it as a last resort and keep speeds within a safe region. Many times filterers, both bicyclist and notorcyclists are seen literally turning the rows of vehicles into an obstacle course to be challenged at ever higher speeds.

I'm all for the CBT but I'd take it a step further and make ALL new learners start with a motorcycle first for six months.
Nowadays the roads are a free for all or literal war zone and with the amount of traffic volume the cops can't monitor it all.

Still its good to know what I've also known for years about motorcyclist who are also drivers but I believe they fudged the numbers, it should be more like 40%.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:30

I’ve just started driving a car for the first time in years and I don’t feel 23% safer as I’m having to actively remind myself not to filter whilst driving my Citroen C5 trough traffic!

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:30

Here's what my wife says. "Not very scientific. Maybe the motorcyclists didn't drive their cars very much. It should be based on mileage of road use for cars and for bikes per owner." Similar point to what DeadStar89 is making. Maybe Equity Red Star could clarify how their data was corrected for mileage driven.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:34

Doesn't sound all that unlikely: Riding a motorcycle makes you more aware of road conditions, and at the same time two-wheelers being more vulnerable is something you remember when you use the car. The optimal situation would be that all road users - pedestrians, bicyclist, moped & motorcycle riders and car drivers - at some point experience what it's like to be in the other's situation.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:51

My wife makes a reasonable point (she’s a scientist) but I can’t believe the insurance company’s head of motor hadn’t thought about the statistical adjustment necessary to take this obvious objection into account. Its a pretty standard statistical technique if you have the original mileage data available - perhaps it wasn’t though. I’m both a committed motorcyclist, IAM member and car driver so would like to believe this to be true. Clinical trial data is adjusted like this all the time to account for all kinds of confounding variables which might affect a statistical outcome. Here mileage is a confounding variable and the outcome, the % reduction in claims. I've had to look at a lot of these sort of clinical stats in my job over the years and its a routine statistical method. So head of motor retail man (or woman…), was mileage taken into account or not ?

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 14:59

So Visordown is going to campaign for discount on car insurance for biker s then ?

do me a fecking favour...

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 16:01


I have often thought the same for the argument that women make better drivers due to less claims. Whereas it is almost a given that men tend to do more driving on average..

Not trying to be chauvinistic, it is purely an observation noted over the years of peoples habits and lifestyle choices.

However I would say that aside to the whole matter of improved awareness that motorcyclists have honed over the years, there is also an exceptionally noticeable improvement (on average) when it comes to machine control. All in all I would say I would expect a higher percentage is more likely

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 16:07

I remember reading somewhere that "Men are twice as likely to have an accident as women". Upon reading the statistics more carefully, it showed the average man drives 12 thousand miles per year, and the average woman drives 3 thousand. Which makes men twice as safe as women.

Though, really a more accurate assessment would be to compare high mileage men, versus high mileage women, etc.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 16:33

>>> Here's what my wife says. "Not very scientific. Maybe the motorcyclists didn't drive their cars very much. It should be based on mileage of road use for cars and for bikes per owner." Similar point to what DeadStar89 is making. Maybe Equity Red Star could clarify how their data was corrected for mileage driven.

This was exactly the point I was trying to make. Claims per mile is a much better measure than claims overall. But even then, you'd also have to compare to non-claimed incidents, which are not measured, to get a better idea; for example, where if you just touch bumpers and settle without the insurers coming in, then that changes the stats entirely.

I would also like to believe this is true, anecdotally I believe that riding improves your driving, but saying that 23% less claims makes riders 23% better drivers is foolish.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 16:52

I'm with Ayo, When a car driver goes for his/her test, assuming they pass, they should be required to spend a minimum of six months on a 50cc rev-n-rip, to learn traffic sense and situational awareness, before being allowed on four wheels.
When they get the four wheels, it should be a 1200cc or less car, and they should not be allowed to carry more than one passenger, unless one is a full licence holder, for a further six months, while they learn how to focus on the road, and not on the chatter from the shotgun seat.
Nobody but nobody should be allowed to get the 'pink ticket' and go out and drive a Lamorghini, a Jag, or even a Range Rover, as a first own car. (even if it is loaned/hired). This includes immigrants with foreign licenses.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 16:58

@User 89776: 'Weaving around cars like they own the road, calling it "Filtering", as if that makes it ok. I call it "Committing a criminal offence"'

Really? Well I call this "you not knowing having a clue about the Laws applicable to the road".

Filtering is perfectly legal and, in fact, if you took some advanced training (RoSPA, IAM or Bikesafe) you would know that making progress by filtering is positively encouraged as is positioning your bike for Safety, Stability and View ahead (which is not "weaving around cars like they own the road")

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 18:17

I take it 89776898 doesn't ride a bike and sits in traffic while bike riders go past him stuck in traffic ???
And all bikers weaving through the traffic is called filtering is an offence. I've had my driving licence 30 years over 10 years ago sitting in another traffic jam I heard to bikes coming down the out side of us that was the day I thought the traffic ain't going to get any better and I will try riding a motorbike .best thing I ever done so I see it from both sides , I ride 13 miles to work all year round driving on weekend or evening, a lot of drivers don't like the fact that bikes are going past them so try to stop them if only for a few seconds ? They must remember every bike on the road means one less car . Since I've been riding I'm more aware of what's on the road riding beside people who doesn't know your beside them until you rev your bike .i haven't had an accident since ive been riding my bike (touch wood) and even dropped my mileage on the car down as I don't drive it so much but saying that it's £20-£30 pounds cheaper if you do average mileage then low mileage so that went back up ha ha so as a duel transport users us bikers should get at least 20 % more discount on out bike and car insurances wishfully thinking

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 18:42

I'll still call it filtering, and no it's not a criminal offence, it's called making progress and the only danger that comes , comes from myopic car drivers who fail to use their mirrors or get frustrated at bikes passing them pull out to the middle of the road, these mongs need their insurance quadrupling , might keep the mummetts off the roads.

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 18:51

More training makes people safer on the roads.... what a shocker.

So Mr Cameron and Co are we now going to do something about the woeful standard of driver training in this country, which leaves so many new drivers so poorly placed to deal with the reality of driving on the UK roads?

Thought not!

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 20:34

carol nash (one of the uk premier motorcycle insurers) give discount for motorcycleing drivers .. in fact they do a 6 wheel policy to insure both vehicles

Posted: 12/11/2013 at 21:20

Um, Davowolf, you wife, scientific as she may be, misunderstands the study. It's not about claims as a factor of vehicle involved, car vs. motorcyle. It's about claims as a factor of whether claimants in AUTO accidents happen to ALSO have motorcycle insurance or not. The only flaw with the conclusion is that it equates riding and insuring: as far as the study goes, a person could have never ridden at all, but as long as he bought a motorcycle insurance policy, he'd be classified as a motorcyclist.
Given that, it should be obvious that the study has absolutely nothing to say about whether motorcyclists are "better" on the road when they are riding as opposed to driving a car.

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 02:55

well said

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 09:56

Unsurprising, aside from motorcyclists being likely have more training and having good reason to be more aware of the road surface and their surroundings, if one has a bike and and a car, attempting to drive the car for thrills is a bit pointless unless the car is something very special indeed. I don't have any statisitcs, but I see the pattern regularly of family car chosen to do the job of moving family and vast quantities of stuff about, with options of engine size and newness eschewed in favour of having a bike budget where the money goes much further and even a cheap old nail obliterates most of the cars on the road.

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 10:22

From an insurers point of view the only thing that matters is risk assessment. Anyone who is less likely to make a claim is better in their eyes.

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 11:36

Assuming that's a wind up but just in case

Filtering is in the Highway Code
It's legal
And you can fail your bike test for not filtering when there is an opportunity

If you are a brain dead car driver why are you reading this ?

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 12:36

When are we going to see a reduction in premiums then? Can I wave this evidence in my insurer's face and say this proves we're better and I want a reduction? It's a shame my arm won't be long enough to reach down the phone and punch them in the face when they say "no".

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 13:50

Filtering is perfectly legal I think you'll find! At the end of the day we're all trying to get to our destinations as safely and as quickly as we are able. Drivers should be more considerate and aware of motorcyclists.

Posted: 13/11/2013 at 22:07

Boo. More sour grapes from another non-rider.

Posted: 14/11/2013 at 01:50

Another envious, misinformed non-rider speaks.

Posted: 14/11/2013 at 01:57

So your the moron who closes the gap out of spite and jealousy then!!
Nothing more frustrating than people who bleat on about stuff they know nothing about.. Now get back in your Volvo & bugger orf..!!!

Posted: 14/11/2013 at 09:01

Hi Guys,regular everyday rider here. A couple of comments after reading this thread...the scientists crack me up, no common sense at all. Common sense will tell you that race car drivers, stuntmen, taxi drivers, truck drivers, cops, motorcyclists, SOME bicyclists, bus drivers are more aware, better trained, more focused, and at the very least, 23% better drivers than the standard motor vehicle operator. Second, what the heck is filtering? I am guessing it's something I already do, but never heard the term.

Posted: 14/11/2013 at 14:29

Filtering? It is the passage of something pure and wholesome, through holes that are too small for the surrounding crap to follow.... apparently.

Posted: 14/11/2013 at 21:46

Sorry mate. Filtering in in the Highway code. Stuat.IAM

Posted: 15/11/2013 at 14:31

Re: the men vs women thing, the claims rate and accident frequency rates are also different. Men tend to have less overall accidents but nearly all result in claims, women tend to have a high proportion of minor accidents with damage barely exceeding the excess, so make less claims. A bit like Germany strictly enforces lane discipline, so they have less motorway accidents, but because they don't really enforce the speed limit, the accidents they do have tend to be more serious.
Speeding does not cause accidents, it makes the consequences more serious. Mid lane hogging causes accidents (mostly seen in the mirrors)

Posted: 04/09/2014 at 16:31

This is effectively what happens in Italy where everyone rides twist and go from 14 upwards and Granny is still using it to go shopping. Great bike awareness, compensated for by an absence of road rules.

Posted: 04/09/2014 at 16:33

"The optimal situation would be that all road users - pedestrians, bicyclist, moped & motorcycle riders and car drivers - at some point experience what it's like to be in the other's situation."

I've done that, but I still can't understand why a person crossing the road with a phone clamped to their ear, believes that studiously avoiding looking at the oncoming traffic makes it disappear."No, you're not there and I can't hear your horn either" Or why you would look to see the oncoming traffic and upon seeing a motorcycle break into a sprint towards a collision.

Posted: 04/09/2014 at 16:39

"I call it a criminal offence."
Glad you're around to self-police for us. I feel a whole lot safer with you here.

Posted: 19/11/2014 at 15:21

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