NEWS - Coroner Looks at Motorcycle Fatalities

image of BC Coroners Service logoThis provincial government news item was released in March, 2010. It advised that the province of BC saw 286 motorcycle fatalities on our highways between 2000 and 2007. As a result, the BC Coroner's Service convened a Death Review Panel to examine the increasing frequency of serious collisions. The panel made recommendations to prevent loss of life in similar circumstances.

image of scene typical of motorcycle fatalities

Death Review Panel Members

The panel consisted of representatives from The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC), The Superintendent of Motor Vehicles, The Motorcycle and Moped Industry Counsel, Motorcycle Training Institutions, Police, The British Columbia and Canada Safety Counsels, The British Columbia Coalition of Motorcyclists, the BC Coroners Service and the riding community.

Recommendations to Reduce Motorcycle Fatalities

They made the following recommendations:

  • Require mandatory industry certification for all motorcycle helmets.
  • Establish a graduated-licence program for new riders.
  • Implement a zero-tolerance blood-alcohol policy for new riders.
  • Issue a different-coloured licence plate to motorcyclists who hold a learner’s licence.
  • Re-evaluate existing standards for training schools and instructor certification.
  • Expand the scope of coroner’s investigations involving motorcycle deaths to include more data and compile it in a specific section for better analysis in the future.

Death Statistics

A look at ICBC statistics on motorcycle fatalities shows a 5 year average from 2017 to 2021 of 40 incidents. Using this rate for the same length of time previous to last year indicates 320 deaths, an increase of 34.

B.C.'s Coroner's Service report summarizes all motorcycle fatalities in traffic-related motor vehicle incidents (MVIs) between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2021.

CBC Today - June 1, 2023

Motorcycle and traffic safety experts discuss road safety for motorcyclists:

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It's important to realize that at 9:22 phone-caller Dan claims that there is no graduated licensing system in BC, and this doesn't get corrected until three minutes late by the ICBC person.

Exactly! We've had a GLP program in place for Class 6/7 drivers for 25 years now, for heaven's sake.

But what really bothers me, is that therein lies the problem.

When I was an Instructor (teaching classes before GLP was introduced), I would recommend to every class that if they wanted to ride a motorcycle, after passing their test at minimum they should be driving for a year without tickets, accidents, or even locking up the brakes. No surprises, because they were aware of their surroundings and situation at all times. 

Yeah, that's a long time ago, but the principles of Smith System - including 'Make Sure They See You' still apply.

Yet ICBC missed a brilliant opportunity, as they could have mandated GLP that only Class 7 drivers, which would have forced them to acquire at least some experience behind the wheel, instead of becoming organ donors. After all, the professional licensees (C1,2,3,4) all require a Class 5 beforehand, so why not the Class 6?

And don't tell me that this would be a massive inconvenience to all those who never intend to drive anything else!

I have used motorcycles as my primary transportation for 50 years and new many people who do not have car licences, so I can't agree with mandatory car licences.
But I highly recommend approved training for new riders.
One advantage we have in BC is that most new riders take professional training whether they have a car licence or not.
And the standards for approved courses is fairly high (higher than the skills test, which doesn't test shifting or steering at speeds higher than 10kph)
Unfortunately, while most schools bundle traffic training with skills training (and the theory for traffic is part of the approved skills course) there are no standards for traffic training.
The other major issue, which we've been trying to get addressed since the inception of GLP in 1998 is the loophole that you can take an approved course and get your supervision restriction removed in two days, without ever demonstrating the ability to ride in traffic.
If you don't take any training, you have to wait a whole 30 days.