Expert issues warning over motorbikes

Motorcycle riders are around 14 times more likely to be killed than a person driving a car.

The recent dramatic rise in motorscooter sales will inevitably mean a big increase in road deaths and injuries, says a leading road safety campaigner.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car buyer’s Dog & Lemon Guide, warned today that motorcycle riders were around 14 times as likely to be killed than a person driving a car.

“High fuel prices mean there’s a natural temptation to switch to two wheels, but people should be aware of the risks they are taking when they ride a motorbike.”

“Throughout the developed world, motorcyclists make up around 1% of traffic but suffer around 20% of deaths and serious injuries.”

In 2006, 38 New Zealand motorcyclists were killed and a further 1017 were injured in road crashes. This was 10 percent of all New Zealand road deaths and 7% of all reported injuries on our roads.

Matthew-Wilson believes that the only realistic option is to discourage the use of motorcycles as everyday transport, especially for novice riders.

“In terms of road safety, we believe that motorcycles are simply too dangerous to be used for everyday transport in many places. The group most at risk are young riders, who are obviously attracted by the low price and fuel economy of a motorbike.”

“The young man who loses control in a car is likely to walk away, if he’s lucky. The young man who loses control on a motorbike stands a good chance of death or serious injuries.”

“It doesn’t matter whose fault the accident is, death is death, and the easiest way to prevent such deaths is to discourage young people and novice riders from using motorbikes for everyday transport.”

“Until recently, most people riding motorbikes were enthusiasts who were experienced riders. I have no problem with them. However, many of the people who are thinking of switching to motorbikes are young, inexperienced riders with little understanding of the risks they are taking.”

Motorcycle enthusiast Mark King agrees:

“I’m glad that I took up riding at 25 and not 17, or I might not be around to tell the tale. I ride every day, but even for a trip down to the supermarket I put on a helmet and a full set of leathers. The fact is, every car driver has a layer of steel of steel around him. The best I can do is wear leather to protect me. The right gear may be the difference between walking away and riding away in the back of an ambulance.”