Bikers paying a heavy price

By Susan Strongman, Belinda Feek

15% of fatal crashes involve motorcyclists, but they make up just a fraction of road users.
Graham and Donette Goodman with their  sons Anthony  (left) and Tim. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Graham and Donette Goodman with their sons Anthony (left) and Tim. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Motorcycles made up just 0.5 per cent of all vehicles travelling last year, but 15 per cent of fatal Kiwi crashes involved riders.

"So they're 30 times over-represented which is a huge cause for concern," said national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally.

By December 23, he said, 52 motorcyclists had died last year, up from 42 in 2014.

Of those, 47 were riders and five were pillion passengers.

That tally did not count one victim of the holiday road toll, which started at 4pm on Christmas Eve and ended yesterday at 6am.

Raymond Allen Valere Morreel, 65, of Tauranga, died while motorcycling with family members on State Highway 28 in Te Poi on December 28.

The latest ACC figures also show the cost of claims for injuries from crashes involving motorcyclists has been steadily rising since 2011, from $70.57 million to $82.06 million in 2014.

That increase mostly occurred in the Bay of Plenty, where the cost has shot up 38 per cent, from $5.20 million in 2010 to $6.13 million in 2014.

Not all of the deaths have been the fault of motorcyclists, but many of them could have been prevented, says Waikato road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace.

Twelve of the deaths were in her patch last year - the most of any police district - up from eight in 2014.

Most bikes involved in last year's accidents hadn't been roadworthy, she said - "so no registration or WOF. Six of the victims didn't have the correct licence to be on the bike in the first place, or had no class of licence at all ... five were suspected to have had drugs in their system or been on home detention ... and four of them were not wearing helmets".

Speed was a factor in five of the crashes, she said.

Mr Greally said people needed to remember motorcyclists didn't have the protection of a one-tonne vehicle so those driving cars and trucks needed to look out for them.

"When they come off their bikes they hit things fast and at high speed and when the human body does that without any airbag or cushioning bad things happen.

"It's not necessarily their fault, some cases it is, some cases it's other people's fault, but they shouldn't stop doing it because what a way to transport yourself."

Motorcyclists will this year be the focus for the third phase of the Safer Journeys objective - Safe System - which focuses on safer vehicles, safer roads and road signs, safer speeds and safer road users.

"It's not necessarily all about rider behaviour, there are a lot of things that can contribute to it ... as motorists we need to be really conscious of who's around us and motorcyclists who sometimes are hard to see, despite the fact that they've got high-visibility gear on, because they're not as big as a car or any other vehicle."

Motorcycle Council chairman Mark Gilbert said there was only one piece of road they all had to share and people should do it safely.

Wayne Goodman.
Wayne Goodman.


"We believe that motorcyclists can help themselves by having all the right gear, the right sort of full-face helmet and wear good riding apparel ... [it] could be the difference between life and death."

He said carrying out regular bike checks and thinking about who you were leaving behind when you left home were also good ways to physically and mentally stay safe.

'Avoidable tragedy' angers family

Tears roll down Donette Goodman's cheeks when she speaks of the tragic motorcycle crash that killed her son Wayne.

The 37-year-old father of two died about 9.50pm on November 28 when a car collided with his brand-new motorcycle at a roundabout in Hamilton.

He'd coveted a bike for a long time.

Last year, on a trip to Sydney to see his brother Anthony, 33, who lives there, Wayne had spent most of his time in a Harley Davidson shop.

About three months before the crash, the insurance assessor and panelbeater had bought a Street 500 made by the famous American brand with money he had left over from the sale of his house and a yellow 1958 Pontiac he'd done up.

"He was over the moon," Anthony said.

Waikato police called Wayne's death an "avoidable tragedy". He was wearing a helmet and a high-visibility vest, Inspector Freda Grace said.

He had his headlight on and was fully equipped as he came around the well-lit roundabout in Horotiu.

It appears a car coming off the motorway drove into him. Police have spoken to the driver. Wayne's bike was barely damaged, but he died at the scene.

The accident took a father from his 17-year-old daughter Riley and his 1-year-old son Cohen and made his wife Nicky a solo mum. Riley answered the door when police came to the family's home to announce Wayne's death.

Anthony and Wayne's other brother, Tim, 36, are angry about what happened, as is his 60-year-old mother and his dad Graham, 63, a former traffic officer.

"He was a stickler for the rules. He was doing everything right - what more could he have done?" Graham Goodman said.

Tim, also a motorcyclist, said it always seemed to be the people "doing the right thing" who were killed on New Zealand roads.

"There's no way Wayne would have done anything wrong."

Mrs Goodman said it wasn't just motorcyclists whom drivers needed to be aware of. "It could have been a car with kids in it, or Wayne could have had Riley with him. People just need to slow down and take their time."

The family are yet to receive the report into the accident from police.

In the meantime, they're avoiding the roundabout, where paint on the road still marks out the place where Wayne died.

- NZ Herald

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