Claims high for motorcyclists

By Cassandra Mason

1 comment
Motorcycle injuries are happening twice as frequently in Wanganui. PHOTO/FILE
Motorcycle injuries are happening twice as frequently in Wanganui. PHOTO/FILE

The rate of claims for motorcycle injuries in the past year in Wanganui was double the national figure, ACC figures show.

The figures come during ACC Safety Week as Minister Judith Collins warned people to beware of seemingly innocuous, everyday hazards.

ACC's annual report showed from June last year to June 2013, Wanganui's claim rate for motorcycle injuries was 121 claims per 10,000 motorcycles, compared with 62 nationally.

"Unfortunately, we do have a high rate of motorcycle accidents here in Wanganui and we don't really know why," Horizon Council Road Safe coordinator Glenda Leitao said.

There were a lot of crashes on the stretch of state highway out to Kaitoke Prison, and winding country roads like Parapara Rd were often more hazardous for riders.

However, it wasn't necessarily local people involved in the crashes, she said.

"We're a through road. A lot of people travel on motorcycles from Taranaki to Wellington [and] go touring to Ohakune."

There was no apparent reason for the rate, but contributing factors were older riders becoming tired, and riders who hadn't ridden in 20 years getting back on the bike.

"Things have changed. Motorcycles are completely different."

Students opting for economical scooters on Wanganui's flat roads also raised the potential for local accidents.

"If you know what you're doing, it's the perfect form of transport for Wanganui, but if you buy it and don't do any training, it's quite tricky."

However, the report shows the overall cost of claims in the region is dropping, with ACC paying out more than $133 million to claimants in Wanganui and Manawatu in the year to June, compared with more than $158 million in 2008/2009.

In Wanganui, more than half of injuries happened at home, totalling close to $7.3 million in claims.

Sport and recreational injuries were the next most common, followed by road accidents.

Wanganui's injury claim rate - the number of claims lodged per 10,000 people - has dropped over the past five years to 3710, about 150 lower than the national average. Nationwide, injuries cost the country $7 million a day.

An annual report showed ACC accepted 1.7 million new claims in the 12 months to June 2013, for a total cost of $2.6 billion.

Claims expenditure was $208 million under budget, reflecting a reduced number of claims and better rehabilitation performance, the report said.

Medical treatment accounted for $449 million, while $234 million was paid out for hospital treatment and elective surgery.

Compensation for lost wages was the highest cost, at $759 million, while $406 million was paid out for "social rehabilitation", like home help, child care, and house modifications like wheelchair ramps.

In the year to June 2013, more than 32,000 people had surgery, 27,594 were injured while cycling, 6210 were injured from dog bites and 11,565 were injured from insect bites.

Knees and shoulders were injured most often, and more than 400,000 people claimed for physio treatment.

More than 42 per cent of new claims were the result of injuries sustained inside the home.

ACC Minister Judith Collins said ACC Safety Week was aimed at raising awareness of safety risks - especially during "seemingly harmless" activities.

"This year we are reminding New Zealanders that they don't have to be out on the rugby field or skateboarding to be at risk of an injury," she said.

Trips and falls were the biggest cause of injuries in New Zealand so it paid to take precautions around things like stairs, dog leads, rugs and skipping ropes, Ms Collins said.

"I've encouraged the corporation to put a greater, more evidence-based focus on injury prevention because I know it has the capability to be more than just an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff," she said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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