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Few people can imagine seeing someone you love die in front of you.
But one man is talking about his experience in support of Hampshire Constabulary’s Motorcycle Casualty Reduction Month campaign, launched today.
Mark Mellor was riding along the A3093 in Andover in front of his father Tony, 52, on June 15, 2010 when he lost radio contact.
He doubled back to find his dad lying in the road, his bike destroyed and parts jutting from a nearby hedge. He was dead.
Investigators would later determine that Tony, from Basingstoke, lost control of his Triumph Daytona 675 on a bend causing him to ride into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He had died instantly.
“I just remember driving back around the bend and seeing the other vehicle, the bike and the blood,” said Mark, 21, from Basingstoke.
“I knew it was fatal.
“There was nothing really conclusive about how the crash happened. It was a nice day and we were just out on a pleasure ride, not in a hurry, not racing. My dad had had some time out from the bike but had 15 years experienceand had a refresher course before he got back on it so he knew what he was doing.
“It just goes to show that anyone can crash, so when I see bikers taking unnecessary risks it winds me up. We have enough to worry about out on the roads without increasing the risk of injury to ourselves.”
Mark is now sharing his story as part of the constabulary’s ongoing bid to reduce injuries and fatalities involving motorcyclists across the two counties this summer.
“I had a spill myself not long before my dad’s crash,” he said.
“Someone pulled out in front of me and I went into their offside. I bounced along the road a bit and broke my leg. I needed two lots of surgery and I now have a titanium rod and pins in my left femur. If I wasn’t wearingthe right kit it would have been worse, skin isn’t the hardiest of materials.
“It’s a particular bug-bear of mine when I see bikers riding in shorts and t-shirts. You lose 20mm of skin for every metre you travel along asphalt at 30 miles per hour when you come off your bike, so the right kit is essential.”
In 2011, Hampshire Constabulary dealt with 342 collisions in which a motorcyclist was killed or seriously injured - an increase of 38.5 per cent on the previous calendar year.
In the first two months of 2012 there were 36 serious collisions involving motorcycles and as the weather improves the force’s Roads policing Unit fear there will be more.
“We understand that collisions aren’t always caused by bikers,” said Inspector Martin Goodall, “but the sad fact is that there have been too many collisions involving bikers which were entirely preventable.
“The aim of the campaign is to encourage motorcyclists to know their limits, not to take unnecessary risks and to be safe by being seen.
“Mark has very bravely chosen to support our campaign by sharing his harrowing experience. He and his dad were on a sensible pleasure ride, Tony being a very experienced rider, but not having ridden for a while.
“This tragedy shows that you don’t have to be inexperienced to be at risk of crashing. With Tony it may have just been a matter of taking a bend a little too fast. It was a terrible accident which has had a massive impacton Mark and the wider biking community.
“We’d like to prevent this kind of thing happening ever again, but while we realise we cannot prevent fatalities altogether if we can educate riders we may be able to reduce them.”
Officers will be approaching motorcyclists over the coming months, offering road safety advice, targeting those taking unnecessary risks on the roads and upping patrols on high risk routes such as the A32, A272 and A339.
The Roads Policing Unit will be offering daily riding advice via the Hampshire Constabulary Facebook page and its Twitter feeds @HantsPolice and @HantsPolRoads.
Backing the campaign is Hampshire County Council, which is offering free Think Bike, Think Biker! car stickers and rider information leaflets with offers on clothing. To order, visit www.hants.gov.uk/roadsafety
County councillor, Mel Kendal said:
"We are fully in support of this casualty reduction campaign, to complement it we're running the 'Named Rider' campaign on the backs of buses across Hampshire designed to make drivers thinkabout the lives of riders and the people who would miss them if they were killed.
"Bikes are easy to miss because they are so much narrower than cars. I'd urge drivers to be vigilant by getting them to think about the life of the person behind the visor and keep looking out for motorcyclists – especiallyat junctions - and always check your mirrors for bikers."
Insp Goodall added: “Obviously, drivers can do their part by looking out for bikers, taking that extra time to ensure the way is clear before pulling out and giving motorcyclists a wide berth when overtaking.
“With the Olympics this year 2012 should be a year to remember, not one to forget.”