Biker Boy: No safety in numbers
Bikers need to ride safely to avoid being an accident statistic
I do not buy 4-D or Toto, but there are sets of numbers that regularly brings a smile to my face - 250, 600 and 1199.
They mean nothing to most people. But when accompanied by letters such as "EXC" and "GSXR", they remind me of my winning moments, with the wind in my face and my wife as my pillion.
But in the last decade or so, another set of numbers has created the opposite reaction in me - accident statistics involving riders and their pillions. It has numbed me with grief.
In 2015, 72 of them died in road accidents - two fewer than in 2014. But bikers and pillion riders injured rose 5.2 per cent, from 4,634 in 2014 to 4,875 in 2015.
Bikers and pillion riders account for roughly half the fatalities on Singapore roads, making those on two-wheelers among the most vulnerable road users.
When I was a young rider in my 20s, I felt invincible, and I never bothered with road safety messages, particularly those showing the aftermath of a fatal crash.
Things changed after I hit my 30s, just as it had for my riding buddies, who are now more considerate and safety-conscious.
While they complain about the heat, they will be dressed in riding apparel even if it is a ride to a nearby hawker centre.
I am not sure if it was fatherhood, my overly concerned mother or that summons I received for speeding on the expressway that transformed me. But I am certain my road safety views became stronger because of my job as a journalist, which brought me into direct contact with traffic cops, injured bikers, and people who had lost children or siblings to motorcycle accidents.
In 2015, 72 bikers and pillion riders died in road accidents, two fewer than in 2014.
A total of 4,875 bikers and pillion riders were injured in 2015, a rise of 5.2 per cent from 4,634 in 2014.
Recently, emergency doctors got my attention when they spoke about injured riders.
Dr Caroline J. Simon from Khoo Teck Puat Hospital shared some bloody statistics - the most common biker-related injuries seen by the hospital were single or multiple rib fractures at 31.7 per cent; lung contusion or bruised lung at 25.6 per cent; and pneumothorax or collapsed lung at 17.4 per cent.
Dr Simon said: "Traumatic injuries are caused by the rider hitting either the handlebars, other parts of the motorcycle, other vehicles or the environment."
A closer look at limb injuries suggests the complexity in treating them.
Dr Jackson Jiang, associate consultant from the department of hand surgery at the Singapore General Hospital, said: "In some cases, such as a tyre rolling over a limb, degloving can occur such that soft tissue is stripped from a limb."
In cases where the velocity is high enough, amputation of limbs can occur regardless of how the injury occurred, he explained.
Talking to these doctors alone is enough to change riding attitudes.
On our roads, there are three numbers you never want to be linked to - 995.