NZ on track for record year of motorcycle deaths

Jacob Johnson
Source: 1News

There are concerns New Zealand is on track for a record year of motorcycle deaths, after a boom in sales last year.

It’s prompted calls for riders to be better prepared before hitting the road, with fears many don’t have enough experience.

Senior Constable Johnny McGrail is one of the country’s longest serving motorcycle patrol officers, but last July his life was on the line when he was in a head-on collision.

“I watched this car accelerate onto the wrong side of the road and I realised there was nothing I could do,” he says.

Senior Constable Johnny McGrail spent several weeks in hospital with a badly broken leg after he was involved in a head-on collision.

“The impact was like being hit with a sledgehammer.”

He escaped with a badly broken leg, spending several weeks in hospital. But he considers himself lucky.

“I thought that was it, that my time was up.”

In 2019, 56 motorcyclist were killed on our roads, the highest death toll since 1997.

In 2021, there have already been 31 deaths, the most for this time of year in at least a decade, on target to beat that record.

Senior Constable Johnny McGrail.

“We seem to be building each year,” says Dave Keilty, ACC’s Injury Prevention Team Manager.

Motor Industry Association figures show a spike in motorcycle sales last year, the highest in 10 years.

“Covid has led to the purchase of new motorcycles, people aren’t travelling as much, so what better way to see the countryside, and to isolate, than get on a motorbike,” Keilty says.

Over the last 2 years, the Government’s spent more than 6 million dollars on motorcycle safety, including roading improvements in high risk areas, advertising and training programmes.

“There’s no magic bullet,” says Tony Knight from the Institute of Advanced Motorists.

“Road safety improvements are valuable but the most important safety device on a motorcycle is the rider… get some training and improve the quality of your riding.”