A charity set up to help save the lives of motorcyclists is stepping up its efforts to get defibrillators installed in accident blackspots around the country.
With traffic volumes getting back to pre-pandemic levels and the warmer weather meaning more bikers are on the roads, the Nick Brisland Trust is hoping to make up for lost time it its campaign to make a difference if a rider is left fighting for their life after a motorcycle accident.
The Trust was set up after Nick Brisland died in a motorbike accident in Hampshire in 2015 when he was just 19, after a car driver pulled out and forced Nick to swerve into oncoming traffic.
Nick’s mum Ria Brisland founded the Trust to turn her grief into a positive, coming up with the idea of installing defibrillators at biker cafes and motorcycle accident blackspots to ensure “other families don’t go through the horror of what we had to” by giving other riders the best chance of survival in the unfortunate event of an accident.
Each defibrillator and the cabinet to store it in, which are supplied by St John Ambulance, cost £1,620 and the Trust has been able to raise enough money to install 12 so far across the country.
The national lockdowns during the Covid pandemic halted the installation programme, but as the country starts to open up again, Ria says they are ready to step up the campaign.
“I was sat thinking, two years after my son’s death, about how I could help,” said Ria, a barber from Southampton.
“His tragic death was horrendous for us, and we just want our work to go some way to making people think more about bikers when they are on the roads as most of these accidents are avoidable.
“Nick’s injuries were too severe and a defibrillator would not have saved his life, but the main thing for me is about raising awareness and preventing other families going through what we did.
“Ultimately we just want to get as many defibrillators out there as possible to potentially save lives.
“We have managed to install 12 so far, but Covid has put a halt on things a little and we have another 10 sat ready to go.
“We recently put ones in Liverpool and in the West Midlands and the next two will be going to Belfast. With two in Wales and strong links in Scotland we have managed to spread ourselves across the UK, even if just at a small scale at this moment.”
Due to the pandemic, traffic volumes were down 14 per cent in 2020, according to the Department of Transport’s provisional report. Despite this, motorcyclists – who only make up around one per cent of all road users – accounted for 19 per cent of all fatalities.
The Nick Brisland Trust is working tirelessly to improve those statistics and awareness around rider safety and has also managed to change the driver training test to add in a video to help learner drivers improve motorcycle awareness, thanks to a petition that got 127,000 signatures.
Ria also managed to change the Highway Code to add a section on the ‘Dutch reach’, which tells drivers to open their car door with their left hand and not their right, which forces them to pivot and look before opening their door and potentially knocking people off their motorbikes.
However, at the core of the Trust’s work is installing as many defibrillators as possible, although she insists she has faced “barriers” along the way.
“We want to get as many defibrillators at accident blackspots as possible and it is part of our plan to find out where these are most needed,” added Ria.
“We would have wanted to start with the blackspots, but we have found that councils and authorities have not all been helpful as many say they don’t want to supply the energy for the defibrillators or won’t want the responsibility.
“We have instead been concentrating initially on getting defibrillators put at motorcycle cafes, who have been more than happy to help.
“We have been really lucky to have had the support we have so far, like the team at HQ Electrical and Property Services fitting the defibrillators for free across the country. We just want to get as many people on board as possible to be able to spread the word.”
The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) was alerted to the ongoing efforts of the Nick Brisland Trust after being contacted by a national law firm eager to help spread the word.
As part of a campaign this summer to raise awareness around motorcycle accidents at Hudgell Solicitors, one of the legal firm’s personal injury experts is using her passion for all things two wheels to highlight how vulnerable riders are to injury.
Motorbike enthusiast and legal executive Becci Ashfield, 47, from Thrapston, near Kettering, Northamptonshire, said: “With more than 50 motorcyclists being injured in an accident every day in the UK on average, it is vital to stress to drivers to always be on the lookout for bikers when they are behind the wheel.
“As the weather warms up and people venture out more after a year of Covid restrictions, it is a great time to raise awareness and highlight where accidents tend to take place around the UK.
“For example, most people would probably think that the majority of motorcycle accidents happen on motorways, where riders are going the fastest, but this is not the case.
“Official figures in the last 10 years show that the number of riders killed each year on motorways never exceeded 14, where as 205 motorcyclists die on average each year on non-built up roads like in the countryside.”
So where are the motorcycle accident blackspots in the UK?
The latest official annual statistics from the Department of Transport show that:
- Almost half of all motorbike accidents occur in London (33 per cent) or the South East (15.9 per cent).
- The South West accounts for 8.9 per cent of motorcycle casualties each year, followed by the Eastern Region (7.8%), Yorkshire/Humberside (6.7%), North West (6.6%), East Midlands (6.2%), West Midlands (5.4%), Wales (3.7%), Scotland (3.2%) and the North East (2%).
- There were more motorcycle casualties in the Westminster area (350) than the whole of the North East (335) in the latest annual figures, with Wandsworth and Lambeth also over 300.
- Kent accounts for the most casualties in the South East (18 per cent), followed by Surrey and Hampshire.
- Other counties outside these areas with a higher number of motorcycle accidents include Essex, Lancashire, Norfolk, Devon, North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
- Leeds, Birmingham and Bristol have the most biker casualties of towns and cities outside the capital and South East.
- Of the biker casualties in Wales, almost 20 per cent occur in either Carmarthenshire or Powys, with seven per cent in Cardiff.
- The Highlands (11.5 per cent) and Edinburgh (11.9 per cent) have the highest proportion of rider injuries in Scotland, followed by Glasgow (7 per cent).
To find out more about the work of the Nick Brisland Trust or to make contact visit its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/thenickbrislandtrust
Becci Ashfield, a legal executive in the personal injury team at Hudgell Solicitors, is using her passion for helping her clients and her work volunteering with the paraplegic riders in the Talan Racing motorcycle team to raise awareness of what to do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident. Read more here