The success of an injury prevention programme aimed at motorcylists on New Zealand roads is behind an ACC proposal to offer some two-wheelers a rebate on their annual registration fee.
ACC's chief customer officer Emma Powell says riders who have been through the programme - Ride Forever - are 23 per cent less likely to have an ACC claim (to June 2018).
She says the proposal is also a response to the view expressed by bikers during ACC's last round of consultation in 2016 that they wanted recognition of their commitment to being safer on the road.
Around 16 per cent of motorcyclists have completed the course and the ACC is looking to encourage a further 10,000 do so in the coming year: "It is creating real, life-saving results and proven to be successful in reducing the chances of riders being involved in an injury-causing crash," Powell says.
In a move designed to improve the skills of motorcyclists, the corporation is proposing a rebate of $100 (valid for two years to a total of $200) for those who complete the ACC's Ride Forever motorcycle coaching course.
Powell says the rebate is designed to encourage the higher-risk riders to take part to reduce dangers to them on the road.
Bikers suffer 10 per cent of all injuries on New Zealand roads - and around 16 per cent of all deaths - but represent just three per cent of vehicles on the country's roads.
Powell says in particular they are looking to target those aged over 40 who in 2016 accounted for 66 per cent of all motorcycle deaths.
Ministry of Transport (MoT) figures show 34 riders aged 40 and over died in crashes in 2016 out of a total of 52 motorcycle fatalities. The number of injuries suffered was also higher for the over 40s – 572 occurring in 2016 from a total across all age groups of 1,205.
"Riders aged 40-plus are over-represented in death and serious injury," says Powell. "It's experienced riders riding 'big bikes' on rural roads who are more likely to be severely injured and unfortunately it's also often experienced riders who feel they're good enough and don't need coaching."
For this reason she says the rebate is proposed to be limited to riders who have had a full class six motorcycle license for at least 10 years and who have completed both the silver and gold sections of the coaching course.
"The costs of motorcycle injuries are high relative to other road users," she says. "They have little protection and are less visible and means the severity of injuries can be a lot worse."
The proposals are part of a suite of changes being recommended by ACC; it is also seeking a 12 per cent increase in the average motor vehicle levy (to cover the growing costs of treating road injuries), a 2.5 per cent increase in the levy on wages to cover accidents from everyday activities, but a 6.9 per cent reduction in the average work levy for business owners.
Powell says it is important people realise these are only proposals at this stage: "We would like people to have a think about what they will mean to them and tell us what they think. From this we will make final recommendations to the government later in the year."
ACC is asking for public feedback on the proposals between now and October 25. People can go to www.shapeyouracc.co.nz to express their views or the levy consultation booth which will be part of a national roadshow – Ask the Nation Station – to nine cities and towns in coming weeks.
Powell says the rebate proposal for motorcycles comes following feedback from riders in 2016 - the last time ACC consulted the public on its levies - who called for recognition for their commitment to being safer on the road.
"Road skills courses are helping reduce the number and severity of accidents and to offset some of the increasing costs of treating road crash injuries," she says.
"We have listened to their feedback. But before we progress this pilot we want to make sure it is something motorcyclists value."
The number of deaths among motorcyclists is way out of proportion to the number of vehicles on the roads. New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) figures to the end of August show there are 3.3 million cars registered in New Zealand compared to 150,140 motorcycles - yet the 52 deaths recorded among riders was nearly 16 per cent of the total road toll that year of 327.
Powell says the Ride Forever course - which people can complete in a day – improves the riding skills of motorcyclists. It covers handling skills, roadcraft and offers advice on the best protective gear to wear.
The advanced gold course also focuses on riding in groups, riding with a pillion passenger, trail braking and advanced cornering techniques. It also allows the rider to identify areas of riding they feel they could improve on, with the coach able to focus on specific areas for each rider.
Powell says motorbikes and petrol mopeds are currently charged between $99 and $397 for the ACC levy portion of their registration. If ACC were to recover the true cost of treating accidents involving riders these amounts would need to increase up to $1,746 per year.
"This means most of the funding for motorcycle injuries still comes from levies paid by other road users."
# This is the final in a series of articles on the ACC proposals. Others have looked at the impact on road users and businesses.