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A motorcyclist has died or been seriously injured every week and a-half, on average, in the Southern police district in the past four years.
Those numbers are the reason why the district’s road police are conducting a motorbike safety campaign this month. Senior Sergeant Glenn Wilkinson said "Operation Rumble" would focus on State Highways 6 and 8, as well as the Crown Range Rd, in the Otago Lakes-Central area. Police would be stopping motorcyclists to check driver’s licences, carry out breath-alcohol tests and "have a chat" about their level of riding experience.
Sixteen motorcyclists died in crashes in the Southern district in the four years to December 31 last year, while 132 suffered serious injuries.
That toll has risen this year already — a 47-year-old Swiss national died near Cardrona village on January 6 after his motorcycle collided head-on with a car. Snr Sgt Wilkinson said many riders were men who owned motorbikes in their youth and had taken up riding again in middle age.
They could afford to buy bigger, more powerful machines, but usually did not think to update the skills they had in their 20s.
Police would recommend to motorcyclists they take a "Ride Forever" course, an ACC-funded programme that offered hands-on training courses ranging from a four-hour session for $20 to a day’s training for $50.
Southern district acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking said the major causes of motorcycle crashes were loss of control, excessive speed, alcohol and drugs, inexperience and position on the road.
More crashes occurred on urban roads than open roads, he said.