Editorial: Tougher rules only part of solution

The tightening of rules governing motorcycle rider licensing is welcome and overdue.

Today's lead story sets out major changes to how people are licensed to ride motorcycles as part of a government drive to cut rider carnage.

In the latest changes, from October 1, learner and restricted motorcyclists must comply with a new bike performance rating system, which measures bikes against their riders using a power-to-weight ratio.

Restricted licence holders will have to stay at this level for at least 18 months, no matter how old they are or what extra qualifications they have.

It will also become harder to obtain a motorcycle licence as tougher standards for the basic handling skills test kick in on November 1.

These changes make sense. Riding a motorcycle can be dangerous because there is little protection for riders and they can be less visible than cars.

The statistics also mean change is necessary.

A total of 21 motorcyclists have died throughout the country so far this year and motorcyclists are 20 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a crash than other motorists.

Hundreds of motorcyclists have died in crashes in the past decade.

Twenty-six motorcycling injuries were recorded between January and April in the Bay of Plenty region and Katikati man Daryl Bryenton died last month when he lost control of his bike and drove into the path of an oncoming four-wheel-drive, just north of Whiritoa.

Of course, tougher rules are only part of the solution. Motorcyclists also need to build up experience, follow basic safety precautions, be visible, and obey the law.

These changes are the latest in a raft of measures the Government has introduced to save lives on our roads. Other examples include tougher rules around youth drivers and drink driving.

But will all this really make any difference?

Only time will tell but the signs so far are encouraging.

On page A3 today, we report the Western Bay has a year-to-date road toll record low with four people dying.

Four is, of course, four too many but a far better statistic than last year for example, when by this time seven people had lost their lives.

Police credit a dedicated highway patrol unit and zero-tolerance alcohol policy for young drivers as being behind this year's result.

I have no doubt these have played a major part. Luck also plays a role in surviving our unforgiving roads and the other drivers on it, as does common sense and a respect for life. How many times have you seen a motorcyclist, leaning forward, overtaking against oncoming traffic?

Let's hope we have fewer people dying or being injured as a result of these changes.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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