Three fatal crashes involving motorcyclists over the weekend has a safety advocate calling for more care as more riders dust off their bikes and head for the roads over summer.
The tragic weekend for motorcyclists began on Saturday morning, when a rider died after hitting a pole on a property adjacent to Foley Rd, Papatawa, near Woodville.
Just after 2pm on Sunday, a 56-year-old man was killed in a crash involving a motorcycle and a car on the Clinton to Mataura Rd State Highway 93, about 3km from Clinton.
Less than four and a half hours later, a motorcyclist was killed in a crash in Ohingaiti in the Rangitikei district on State Highway 1, involving a motorcycle and two other vehicles.
Chair of the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council Mark Gilbert said the three deaths were terrible for those who knew them.
"It's very sad to hear there's been a few deaths over the weekend," he said. "That's a horrible start."
"It also goes against the trend we have been seeing over the past few years, it's been quite positive.
"The stats, as bad as they are, they are less than the last three years but we know these things can change radically."
Gilbert said the council and the Automobile Association were passionate about training for motorcyclists.
"This is even more so the case for riders who are starting up again for the summer season. The same messages apply to wear the right gear and make sure other motorists are aware of where you are.
"You're not always easy to see with some of these big vehicles on the roads."
Gilbert said there was a lot being worked on to increase rider safety, from refresher courses for cyclists to assisting the New Zealand Transport Agency with road improvements.
"We've been working with NZTA on the southern Coromandel loop, improving the gradients and better lines of sight on corners," he said.
"Next, we'll be looking at the northern Coromandel loop."
Gilbert also recommended motorcyclists take a good look at their helmets before heading out on the road next time.
"Helmets, like most things, have a limited lifespan," he said. "Also consider whether it's been dropped and bounced a few times. If so, it's proabably compromised and no long fit for purpose."
As of Monday morning, the New Zealand Transport Agency road toll statistics show 37 out of 325 road fatalities for 2017. This compared with 43 motorclists among the 280 fatals last year.
Last year the Ministry of Transport released a report into motorcycle crashes in New Zealand, stating that motorcyclists faced a number of risk factors that did not affect car drivers.
These included decreased stability, a lower level of occupant protection and the fact that a motorcycle is less visible to other road users than a car or a truck.
The report said that between 1985 and 2015 a total of 2044 people died in motorcycle collisions and 48,270 were injured.
Several studies have compared the risk of death and injury for a motorcyclist to that of a car driver, the report stated.
The New Zealand Household Travel Survey showed the risk of being killed or injured in road crashes was 21 times higher on average for motorcyclists than for car drivers over the same distance travelled.
A rider without a helmet was three times more likely to suffer severe brain damage than a rider with a helmet in the same type of crash.
The report said the number of motorcyclist casualties dropped markedly during the 1990s to a minimum between 2000 and 2004.
Numbers increased between 2004 to 2008, but have dropped since then.
- Additional reporting by Ruby Harfield of Hawke's Bay Today.