Death tally 'a numbers game'

By Alisa Yong -
1 comment
RIDER: Ulysses Club committee member Mike Purcell with his Honda CBR500R. PHOTO/ALISA YONG
RIDER: Ulysses Club committee member Mike Purcell with his Honda CBR500R. PHOTO/ALISA YONG

Statistics showing older male motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes may be skewed, says a Carterton biker.

Mike Purcell, committee member of the Ulysses Club, a nationwide motorcycle club, says men over 40 may be over-represented in the fatality statistics simply because there are more of them riding.

"I've seen the statistics myself and they are correct when they look at the deaths but to put it in perspective when the over-40s were teenagers it was traditional for everyone to ride bikes - a larger percentage of the population rode bikes.

"There is a larger percentage of people in the older age group that have motorbike licences. It's just a sheer numbers game."

Mr Purcell started riding as a teenager in the 1970s, when it was more common to have a motorcycle licence, he said.

Young people now were likely to be put off by the cost of getting a motorcycle licence and were more likely to opt for just a car licence, Mr Purcell said.

Bigger, more powerful bikes were one factor among many that could cause crashes, he said.

"There are a lot of guys that once they are over 40 and they are free of children, they get back into riding and the bikes these days, they are a lot bigger.

"It could well be a factor that bikes are bigger and heavier, and generally the roads are busier and there's a lot more traffic on the roads and people are always in a hurry."

Fatal crashes occurred for a number of reasons, and overconfidence and speed could sometimes be a factor too, he said.

"If you put 10 factors in there you wouldn't be wrong - it's a complex issue.

"Really at the end of the day a motorbike rider has got to be responsible for their actions and has to ride to the conditions - but saying that you've got to be prepared for anything that comes round that corner... that's the nature of the game, if you come off a motorbike you are going to get banged up a lot more."

Mr Purcell said at a recent session held with ACC many bikers had been enthusiastic about undertaking further training and improving their skills.

He encouraged bikers to upskill when possible, invest in good gear and maintain their bikes well.

"Make yourself as visible as possible. I wear a high-vis yellow and black helmet, I wear a high-vis vest. I'm fully covered head to toe."

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