Hurt rate, 21 times higher for motorcyclists

Over the past 18 months, more than 450 motorcyclists have been admitted with injuries to Middlemore Hospital. In 2016, 52 motorcyclists died on New Zealand roads, most were over the age of 40, and 91 per cent were male.

With the weather heating up and petrol prices reaching new highs, the expectation is that even more bone crunching injuries and deaths will occur.

“There’s a relationship with petrol prices in terms of motorcycle use and crashes. When prices rise, people increasingly rely on motorcycles to reduce their fuel costs in response to these price increases,” advises Dan Jenkins, Manager of Analytics and Modelling from the Ministry of Transport. According to stats, the number of motorbikes on our roads has increased by over 100 percent since December 2000. Dan adds, “In 1996, the risk of being involved in a fatal or injury crash was more than nine times as high for a motorcyclist, as for a car driver over the same distance travelled. It’s now 21 times higher.”

It’s not rocket science. If a vehicle moves at speed, and crashes, there are only so many forms of protection that will help save you. If that vehicle has no outer protective shell, it’s no wonder that where fatal accidents involve a motorcylce, the motorcyclist, or their pillion passenger, are the ones to die in 98 per cent of all cases.

Police are encouraging all riders to check their bikes, ensure brakes are functioning well, tyre pressure is correct, and to undertake one of the popular Ride Forever courses.“Regardless of your skill or experience, the Ride Forever courses are worth doing, as the skills and handling they teach you could quite simply save your life,” says NZ Transport Agency Director Safety and Environment, Harry Wilson. The stats seem to support that view too. “Research shows that riders who completed a Ride Forever course were 45 per cent less likely to submit an ACC claim,” says Ride Forever Program Manager David Keilty.

I’ve ridden a motorcycle. Once. I crashed it and was lucky enough to walk away largely unscathed (I definitely was in need of rider training!) I loved the feeling of freedom and of the breeze in my hair, but I’ve hammered the degree of increased risk into my kids, and I hope they never ever ride a motorcycle, as the stats aren’t in their favour, and as a Mum, they’ve given me enough grey hairs already! However, I can totally understand the appeal, and as September is Motorcycle Awareness Month, it’s certainly an opportune time for us to remind our weary brains that more bikes will be on our roads.

“We know motorbikes can be harder to see, so drivers please look twice at intersections and before you change lanes. And to riders, don’t take risks. An unsafe manoeuvre, or going too fast for the conditions, could have tragic consequences. When on the roads, being safe is considerably more important than being right,” says Inspector Peter McKennie, Manager: Operations, Road Policing.

Gosh ain’t that the truth. With the weather warming up, and peak crash times being 12 noon to 4pm on weekends, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for two wheeled riders in the hope of doing my part in reducing these terrible stats. Join me, and let’s keep more riders safe on our roads. For more details on Ride Forever visit:

September is when more motorcycles hit the road. Motorcycles are becoming more popular, with a 60 per cent increase in motorcycle travel on the road in the last 10 years. They’re also involved in more crashes. In 2016, motorcycles were involved in ten per cent of crashes and 16 per cent of road deaths despite making up only three per cent of road users. So far this calendar year, 29 riders have died on the roads.

Causes of crashes: Speed alone contributed to 20% of all fatal motorcycle crashes in 2017. Understanding the causes of crashes and how to mitigate them can make you a better and safer rider. NZTA’s motorcycling road code website offers safety information for riding in bad weather, night riding, roadworks, sun strike and road surface. SOURCE: MOT

When crashes happen: The peak times for motorcycle crashes on New Zealand roads are between 12 noon and 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and between 4pm and 8pm on weekday. Source: MOT
Where crashes happen: Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of all motorcycle injury crashes occur on urban (speed limit of 70km/h or less) roads, but nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of fatal crashes are on the open road. Source: MOT

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