Motorcyclists who get access to lightweight bikes without having taken a prior exam may be more vulnerable to accidents, according to a study.
Focussed on Barcelona, the study has shown that there has been an increase in the number of injuries among users of lightweight motorcycles after a law was passed in 2004, allowing the riding of motorbikes with a class B license (for cars).
The risk of having an accident has not changed since then, suggest the results .
In 2004, in order to improve the flow of traffic and reduce the number of cars on the roads occupied by a single person, the Spanish government passed a law allowing holders of a class B driving license (for cars) over a period of more than three years to ride motorcycles, whose use is permitted with a class A1 license (for lightweight motorbikes).
"We have evaluated the differences between the risk of traffic injuries among motorcyclists before and after the approval of the law," Catherine Perez the main author of the study, a researcher from the Barcelona Public Health Agency (ASPB), told SINC.
The results of the work have shown that the risk of injuries among the users of lightweight motorcycles has increased by 46 percent in the three years since the approval of the law.
But once this figure is adjusted owing to the high increase in the number of motorbikes, no rise in the risk for riders of light motorcycles has been observed.
"This leads us to think that other factors, such as the measures to reduce car use and the situation of economic growth during this period have led to an increase in the use of motorbikes," said the researcher.
"Facilitating car drivers' access to motorcycles without the need to pass a specific exam beforehand which acts as an access filter increases the number of traffic injuries involving motorbikes.
"The average number of injuries per month has risen from 104.6 to 154.3. Besides, before the law came into force, the number of injuries in motorcycle accidents displayed a slightly downward trend," she added. .
For the study, the researchers compared the data on traffic injuries to users of light motorbikes and heavy motorbikes with those of mopeds and cars in Barcelona between 2002 and 2008.
The figures were also adjusted bearing in mind the trend and seasonal nature of the traffic injuries, and the introduction of the driving license points system in 2006.
A research article describing the study has been published in the World Health Organization Magazine.