Motorbike safety: Fix small things first, say riders

By Elizabeth Binning

Motorcycle crashes contribute to 7 per cent of all injuries in New Zealand.
Photo / Thinkstock
Motorcycle crashes contribute to 7 per cent of all injuries in New Zealand. Photo / Thinkstock

A new guide highlights many ways to make the roads safer for motorcyclists - but riders want authorities to start with some of the smaller and easier solutions to ensure change does take place.

The Transport Agency is developing a guide which aims to reduce the number of serious motorcycle crashes by providing consistent guidance for the people who design, build and maintain our roads.

But a group involved in developing the guide, which was released for consultation this week, says not everything can be fixed at once so it is best to start with the little things.

Agency chief executive Geoff Dangerfield says statistics show there is plenty of scope to make motorcycling safer in New Zealand.

"Looking at crash data per kilometre driven, the risk of a motorcyclist being killed or seriously injured on New Zealand roads is 18 to 20 times higher than that of a car driver.

"There is much more that can be done to improve safety for motorcyclists, and this guide outlines some practical steps that can be taken."

The guide says more than 13,500 accidents involving motorcyclists and moped drivers have happened in the 10 years to 2010 and nearly 400 were fatal.

The new guide highlights many of the issues which caused or contributed to these accidents and suggests ways to prevent further accidents. These cover everything from improving surface conditions and eliminating potential hazards to improving rider behaviour and giving more education.

But rider Paul Searancke, who is deputy chairman of the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, says some possible solutions are easier and cheaper than others.

He cites as an example, dealing with potentially dangerous loose gravel that has spread onto a sealed highway from a driveway or unsealed side road.

He says bigger works such as road realignments are not so cheap or easy and unlikely to happen in the current economic climate. They could, however, be incorporated into future roading projects.

Mr Searancke says the overall goal is to save lives. "We just want to stop people getting killed or hurt."

With initiatives such as the new guide it is hoped that the rate of fatal accidents can be cut from 12 per 100,000 people to around eight, the figure for Australia's best state, Victoria.

The latest motorcycle accident was yesterday morning when a man of 57 was badly hurt after failing to take a bend at the Mohaka Viaduct, Raupunga.

Motorcycle/moped crashes 2001-2010:
*391 fatal, 3489 serious, 6281 minor, 3454 non-injury.
*Contribute to 7 per cent of the total injuries in NZ.
*Risk of being killed or seriously hurt is up to 20 times higher for motorcyclist than for the driver of a car.
*Crossing or turning in urban areas, losing control on a bend or head-ons in rural areas are the most common causes of crashes.

- NZ Herald

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