A cycle advocacy group wants an inquiry into heavy vehicle safety following a deadly spate of accidents involving cyclists and motorcyclists.

The Cycling Action Network says heavy vehicles cause a "disproportionate amount" of harm on the country's roads.

However, the trucking industry disputes that, saying it causes less harm than cars for the amount of kilometres travelled.

Five people died on the country's roads at the weekend, four motorcyclists and one cyclist, believed to be a keen Horowhenua rider.


It's pushed the number of deaths in both transport modes to totals higher than the past few years, according to Ministry of Transport data.

Cyclist dies after collision with vehicle near Manakau, Horowhenua
Young student killed by truck while cycling to class
Cyclist death on Marine Parade third serious crash in area in less than a week
Motorcycle and cycle toll skyrockets after horror weekend on country's roads

The number of cyclists to have died so far this year has more than doubled - from five to 12 currently. Most crashes have involved cars.

Including the four from the weekend, 47 motorcyclists have also now died, up from 39 at the same time last year.

The deaths occurred just 48 hours after Christchurch cyclist Fyfa Dawson was killed after being hit by a truck while riding through a major roadworks site on Springs Rd.

Patrick Morgan of the Cycling Action Network says something needs to be done. Despite an increase in vehicle technology, the rate of cyclists being killed had not slowed.

"A disproportionate amount of harm is caused by heavy vehicles on our roads. Heavy vehicles account for less than 10 per cent of kilometres travelled yet they cause more than 30 per cent of the harm.

"I would like to see the Government take a closer look into this and think it's time for an inquiry into heavy vehicle safety."


As part of that inquiry, he wanted to see the trucking industry invest more into safety of their vehicles.

"I just think that people on our roads deserve to be safe and I think that they should regulate that. Yes, everything is political but I think the Government has dropped the ball on that and people are being harmed as a result.

"I think it's the regulator's job to keep people safe.

"The question is, why do we permit vehicles on the road which have giant blind areas? It seems to me it's a systemic issue, it's not just about one person on a bike or in a truck making a mistake."

Two motorcyclists die in Christchurch crash
Motorcycle and cycle toll skyrockets after horror weekend on country's roads
Father of eight dies in Auckland motorcycle crash, givealittle page set up
Two people die in crashes in Auckland and Whāngārei

As for how to make trucks safer, he said that could involve cameras or more efficient side mirrors, however the most simple would be the implementation of Side Underrun protection - as used on buses, to prevent cyclists from going underneath.


"There's different systems, some involve cameras, some are truck design, but we know it's possible to design a truck to eliminate blind areas."

He said Side Underrun panels were recommended after a 2014 review but it was turned down.

Morgan said vehicles were getting safer "but it turns out that people outside the vehicles are less safer.

"I think there's a number of factors. There's kilometres being driven but also vehicles are getting bigger and heavier.

"The double cab ute for example, the frontage of the vehicle is higher."

However, Nick Leggett of the Road Transport Forum said he wasn't aware of any data which stated trucks caused more harm compared to cars.


"In terms of a per kilometre basis trucks are not, compared to cars, overly causing more harm if you think about the big distances trucks do, the time that the vehicle is suspended on the road they're actually doing less harm per kilometre."

He said there first needed to be a definition of what a heavy vehicle was before any specific data could be attached to it.

"Two-thirds almost of truck crashes are caused by the other vehicle, not the truck. So trucks are primarily the cause of 20 per cent of the amount of crashes that they're involved in.

"What we can say from that is that we can always improve safety, and always looking ways to reduce accidents, injury and death on the road ... but proportionately ... truck deaths and accidents have come down since [the 1990s]."

There was no need for an inquiry until something new came to the table to further help death and injury, but the industry had invested heavily in new technology in recent years.

There was currently no universal safety product to use on trucks, however both drivers and cyclists needed to be aware when sharing the road.


As for side protection, Leggett said it had been "well thrashed out in the policy environment" but there hadn't been any conclusive proof that it prevented deaths "or simply altered the mode of death and serious injury".

"That means we couldn't find, in multiple jurisdictions, a benefit from Side Under-Run fittings."

Mark Gilbert, chair of the Motorcycle Safety Council, said the deaths were a tragedy for all involved.

He said South Island roads were "historically pretty good" but riding a motorbike was a high risk activity.

He added that the tragedies were a timely reminder, given the start of the peak riding season, for everyone to keep safe and look out for each other on the roads this summer.

Bikers should take part in a motorcycle refresher course to brush up on their skills.