Motorcyclist's death highlights 'important safety issue'

By Patrice Dougan

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Motorcyclists are being warned to heed international laws on changing tyres after a coroner found New Zealand regulations may have contributed to the death of a biker.

Bryan Wyness, 71, died following a crash on State Highway 1 at Rangiriri, on July 20, 2012.

The front tyre of his 2004 BMW motorbike had a slow leak, and a sudden deflation caused the tyre walls to collapse, sending Mr Wyness crashing into the central barrier, Coroner Gordon Matenga ruled.

Mr Wyness drifted into the right lane, in front of a car preparing to overtake him, before smashing into the barrier. He suffered fatal spinal injuries.

A police investigation found Mr Wyness' tyre tubes were likely the original tubes which came with the bike when he bought it in 2004. The front tyre tube had worn away, causing a small leak.

This highlighted an "important safety issue" for bikers, Mr Matenga said, pointing to evidence which showed that in Germany, the United States and England it was the law that the tyre tube must be changed at the same time as the tyre itself. Tyre manufacturer Pirelli also has a warning on its products.

"This does not reflect the law in New Zealand," Mr Matenga said.

"Motorcycle tyre mechanics are able to reuse the old tube when replacing worn tyres. This is clearly a concern."

Evidence heard at the inquest was insufficient to call for a law change, he said, but instead called for the issue to be drawn to public attention and raised as a point of concern with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), as well as motorcycle safety groups.

"Motorcyclists should at least be made aware of the potential for danger," he said.

Mr Matenga made three recommendations, requesting a copy of the inquest findings be sent to NZTA and ACC, that bikers are warned that if they do not follow manufacturers advice it could lead to "possible serious injury or death", and that NZTA and ACC should promote a similar safety message on their websites.

- APNZ

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