The Northlanders have made 4,532 ACC claims for motorcycle accidents over the past 10 years. Photo/NZME
Some sections of Northland’s most dangerous rural highways will be upgraded as part of a program targeting high-risk routes for motorcyclists.
The figures communicated to defender of the north show that the Northlanders have made 4,532 ACC claims for motorcycle accidents over the past 10 years, with 2020 and 2021 having the highest number of claims, with 464 and 472.
Safety improvements on many sections of 25 rural roads across the country are part of the Road and Roadsides program, a joint venture between ACC and Waka Kotahi.
David Keilty, ACC injury prevention partner and Ride Forever program manager, said while motorcyclists make up just 3% of road users in New Zealand, they account for 20% of injury claims related to the road.
Research also shows that the likelihood of death or serious injury for motorcyclists is 21 times higher than for a motorist traveling the same distance, Keilty said.
So far this year, 24 people have died on Northland’s roads, six of them – 25% – being motorcyclists. In 2021, five (16%) of Northland’s 30 road deaths involved motorcyclists.
ACC figures show that over the past 10 years, an average of nearly 7,200 people have filed motorcycle-related injury claims.
As of 2021, ACC was supporting over 7,500 people who had suffered road-related motorcycle accidents, at a total cost of over $111 million.
The total cost of the Northland claim was not available.
“ACC is committed to reducing the number and severity of motorcycle injuries that occur on New Zealand roads and this is one way of investing in motorcycle safety,” Keilty said.
Sections of four routes in Northland are online for upgrades.
These are Whangārei to Waitangi via Waipoua; Russell to Whangarei via Whakapara; Auckland to Paihia via Titirangi; Wellsford to Waipū and Auckland to Mangawhai.
The exact sections of the highways to be upgraded have not yet been announced as they are still in the planning/design phase and the exact routes/improvements have not been determined.
The $6.3 million program is expected to be completed by 2024.
Road improvements involve a series of safety measures tailored to motorcyclists, such as the installation of guard rails on existing road barriers; install or replace signs; sealing aisles; install LCD panels and remove trees.
The improvements for each route are recommended by Waka Kotahi and approved by the ACC.
Funding comes from the Motorcycle Safety Levy (MSL), which riders contribute to through their motorcycle registration fees.
ACC data shows that motorcycle-related claims typically increase in September, which is why it’s Motorcycle Awareness Month – an initiative led by ACC and the Safety Awareness Council Motorcycles (MSAC) to celebrate the start of ‘riding season’ and encourage riders to get ‘ready to ride’.
The initiative encourages cyclists to be more attentive, especially at intersections, as more and more bikes hit the road.
“The figures show that over 50% of motorcyclists deregister and store their bikes during the winter months,” Keilty said.
“In September, most cyclists take their bikes out of the garage after storing them over the winter.”
Cyclists should ensure that their personal protective equipment is always in good condition before getting back on their bike.
“Ultimately, the only thing that separates you from the road in a crash is the gear you choose to wear,” he said.
“It’s an old adage but still relevant: dress for the slides and not for the ride.”
Data shows that riders who have taken a Ride Forever coaching course are up to 50% less likely to file a motorcycle accident claim than untrained riders.
You can find more information about Ride Forever here: https://www.rideforever.co.nz/.