Sorting Fact from Fantasy - article 3
by Gareth Morgan
There has been a lot of bickering about motorcyclist injury statistics, what they mean and whether they relate to the rising cost of motorcyclist injury claims to ACC. I was confused by it all, so I dug into the data to sort out the facts from the fantasy. I’m an economist after all, so I turn to the numbers when there’s an argument raging and the different sides are all wound up. If we want to have a healthy, constructive debate, we need to have our facts straight, otherwise it’s just a noisy waste of everyone’s time.
My goal with this study was to educate myself. Now it’s to educate anyone who’s interested in knowing the facts and ensuring we keep the discussion rational and focused on what to do about it all. By all means pick this apart – that’s what I want you to do. But keep in mind that we’re all pursuing a factually-based and rational response to the issues around the rising human and financial toll from on-road motorcyclist injuries.
In Parts One and Two of this study, we covered
- Are Kiwi motorcyclists having more accidents?
- Exactly how much more risk is involved in riding a bike than driving a car, and has that risk increased? Read Parts 1 and 2 here.
We have now posted Part 3, which covers:
- How likely are we to make an ACC claim as the result of having an on-road motorcycle accident, and has that changed of late? Read Part 3.
In part 4 we’ll cover:
- Do motorcyclist injury claims really cost ACC so much more than other vehicle injury claims?
I reckon that with these facts straight, we can have a productive debate about the fairness of levy increases, the sanity of moving to a levy per rider rather than per vehicle, and most importantly how the hell we are going to make material advances on reducing the injury toll. My view is we can’t get to a sensible solution without considering all aspects of the challenge we face.
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Terry (Auckland)8:31 AM 16 June 2012
I'm actually with you Duncan. Group rides are a challenge because no matter how many times the "It's not a race" instruction gets uttered down the line there's always a few who get sucked into riding outside their talent band. In my group I'm known as being a "Capt Slow" and it doesn't upset me one bit!
Duncan (Auckland)7:04 AM 16 June 2012
Murray and Terry, fair comments ... BUT... I'll add this sad anecdote about that same stretch of road. A mate in Tairua told me there is a grizzly burnt patch on the seal heading south on that same road. It marks the spot where a new rider, apparently following a friend who was a more experienced rider, matched his speed into one of those corners, went wide, and ....head on. Dead. So yes, we all should ride "within ourselves" I agree, but such responsible restraint usually only comes with years of experience. Don't dump on an idea just because you have long since learnt to control your "inner hoon". Most of us are still working on it.
murray (stratford)2:02 AM 16 June 2012
I think that the highway administrators would say that there are already speed advisory signs for corners assessed as requiring a speed lower than the posted speed limit. However, I suspect that these are assessed on the basis of driving a light 4-wheeled passenger vehicle, not a motorcycle. If we ask for dual assessments, does this mean that there should be one for "B" trains as well?
I suspect that the significant factor in Duncan's anecdote may have been the "group ride". Some people just cannot help trying to keep up with faster riders in these situations - even when they realise that the pace and behaviour is riskier than they would normally tolerate. It pays to be very particular about who you ride with if you are prone to "group think".
Terry (Auckland)9:22 PM 15 June 2012
Duncan may be on to something here...Maybe we should take this a step further and have every corner posted with "Degree of Difficulty" signage as a salute to this being an Olympic year? Or maybe someone can develop an "Ap" that will vibrate the riders androids any time they approaching a tricky set of bends? Or...maybe riders just learn to ride within themselves and not go hot into a blind set of corners that they're not familiar with?
Duncan (Auckland)3:23 AM 15 June 2012
I was driving (bike at home, not registered because new ACC bike levy too painful to pay in 12 month chunks like previous) along the stretch of highway on the Coromandel between the Whangamata turnoff and Tairua on a Saturday afternoon a month or so back. Heading towards Tairua. Coming the other way in various groups over the course of that road were 80 plus riders on all sorts of machinery. What was an eye opener was the number of riders who came wide out of a tight corner - ie they couldn't keep it in their lane. I was back far enough from the bend in each case that it wasn't a major but dangerous stuff if I had been closer. Those who had crossed the centre line were all flying as they passed me. So I was thinking - the corners in question were all tight little buggers after a series or fairly cruisy, well cambered ones - so what about a simple small road sign like those exclamation mark ones for roadworks, but this has an exclamation mark with a motorbike symbol underneath. Would warn riders that this next corner requires a bit of care and less throttle (is extra tight, off camber, has been the scene of a few prangs...). Would be easy for MOT to thump them into the roadside on a stake.
Terry (Auckland)7:33 AM 14 June 2012
This has bugger all to do with the debate in hand but here's some interesting statistical facts to show that what you ASSUME is not always the case -
1. What was the biggest killer of civilians in London during "The Blitz"? A: Road traffic accidents! Cars, trucks, bus's and trams all operating under black out conditions mowed down pedestrians by the thousand! The Luftwaffe came a distant second so maybe there's some bikers could learn here about seeing and more importantly being SEEN!
2. What was the biggest killer of pilots and aircrew in WWII? A: Training accidents - Mostly due bad weather. Death due enemy action again came a distant second. Motorcyclists take note: Training is critical but forcing the pace of training can bring it's own perils!
3. How many Russian soldiers were killed by kicks from mules during WWI? A: Two (Apparently). Hard to extrapolate something from this that pertains to our debate but feel free to have a go.
Terry (Auckland)7:20 AM 14 June 2012
Alan has latched onto something but the stats to prove the theory would be well beyond the appropriate authorities will to dig out...Besides it's a (near) given certainty that the more highly skilled and qualified a rider/driver is the better/safer they will be...more than likely because it will be the older/wiser/smarter road user who has accumulated all these licenses as opposed to a 17 year old punk!
Personally I believe car drivers should be made to ride a motorbike for a year before they can graduate to driving a car so they get a real appreciation/schooling in the arts of reading road surfaces, throttle control etc. Better still - Make all this part of the compulsory school curriculum from age 14. God knows if schools can dish out NCA credits to kids for learning to sail or picking up litter from the school grounds they can get credits towards being properly trained and licensed to operate dangerous moving machinery - i.e. cars and m/bikes!
Alan (Auckland)6:08 AM 14 June 2012
Does anyone have any statistics on the number of collisions involving multi-class drivers (that is, those who have more than one class on their licence - truck drivers and motorcyclists for example) and in how many of those collisions they were the victim (the injured party). That statistic would be interesting when compared with the number of collisions involving single-class drivers (if there is a complete record of all collisions, not just those causing injury) and again compared with how many collisions were caused by multi-class drivers. It is my (unproven) gut instinct that those who have earned more than one class of licence statistically cause fewer collisions (even if they are statistically over-represented in injury statistics as the victims of other drivers' errors). If this is accurate, then encouraging multi-class qualification is a logical step in reducing the number of collisions on our roads. One way to do that would be to increase the minimum driver age again, but keep the age for a motorcycle licence where it is so that high school students (and even university age students) are encouraged to learn to ride before they learn to drive. The skill sets are different and I believe having the skills needed to ride a motorcycle - even a 50cc scooter - make for better car drivers with raised situational awareness in the long-term. They are also less likely to develop distraction habits (eg texting or calling) while on the road.
Michael Green (Rangiora)6:43 PM 13 June 2012
oh well.....another $30 so everyone can discuss ACC, shit on the road ahhhh, what else happens for my $30.....from where I am sitting.....not a lot....I can see nothing has or ever likely to be achieved that is worth while other than a whole lot of chest puffing and self adulation.
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