Motorbikes major factor in road toll

The high number of motorbike deaths and injuries in New Zealand has prompted a call for urgent action.

Clive Matthew Wilson, editor of the car review website, says:

“Over Labour Weekend, two of the worst accidents involved motorbikes.“

"Last year, 54 motorcyclists were killed and 1,438 were injured on our roads. Motorcyclists now make up about 16% of road deaths. It’s clearly time to heavily restrict the use of these death machines."

“A large majority of those killed were aged between 40-59. In 70% of fatal accidents involving motorbikes, the rider was at fault. However, there have also been many totally innocent riders killed by careless drivers.”

“The bottom line is this: it’s really unsafe to ride a motorbike and even more unsafe if it’s a big bike and you’re middle aged.”

On average, the risk of being killed or injured in road crashes is 21 times higher for motorcyclists than for car drivers over the same distance travelled.

Matthew-Wilson says it’s time to restrict access to motorbikes, especially for older riders.

“As we age, our reaction times slow, and our ability to control a large, moving object such as a motorbike drops substantially. There needs to be a much tougher testing regime for all riders, which gets tougher the older you get and the larger the motorbike.”

Matthew-Wilson is also concerned that the government continues to support courses such as the ACC’s Ride Forever courses. 

“I understand that the government is sincere in backing this programme. But almost all international research show that advanced training for motorcyclists has little or no effect on the number of crashes. I don’t doubt that the riders who attend the Ride Forever course have better outcomes. But it’s the attitude of the rider that affects the outcome, not the course. Impeccable research shows that when riders are selected at random to attended refresher courses, it either makes no difference, or slightly increases the chances of having an accident due to overconfidence."

“This has been demonstrated in study after study, and the road toll speaks for itself.”

Matthew-Wilson is also shocked that the government still allows motorbikes to be sold without anti-skid brakes, which have a proven ability to prevent accidents.

The benefits of anti-skid brakes on motorbikes are really dramatic. Yet there are many bikes on sale without it. This is completely unacceptable.”

Matthew-Wilson is also concerned that many motorbikes are hard to see.

“Dark coloured motorbikes and dark protective clothing remain the preferred option for many riders. The reality, however, is that other road users may not see dark colours, which increases the risk of serious accidents.”

Matthew-Wilson, who has been researching the road toll for a quarter of a century, says the most depressing part of his job is "hearing the same old failed theories for lowering the road toll repeated by people who haven’t done their basic research.”

"For example, the police keep asking people to drive and ride safely, even though this has been proven to make no difference. Road safety advertising campaigns also make no difference. Fifty years of research has shown this. There is virtually no credible research showing the opposite. I’m sorry, but this is true."

Matthew-Wilson recommends all politicians read the following piece: 


• Clive Matthew-Wilson has been actively campaigning on road safety and consumer issues for 25 years.  Mentored by engineer Chris Coxon (former technical chair and founding member of the Australian New Car Assessment Program – ANCAP), Matthew-Wilson was the first person to publish crash test results in New Zealand. His research into seatbelt upgrades was awarded by the Australian Police Journal. Matthew-Wilson is a strong supporter of pedestrians’ and cyclists’ rights and has helped shape many major road safety policies in New Zealand.

Clive Matthew-Wilson was the founder of