Motorcycle club head objects to Police Minister's call

A man rides rides a motorcycle on a rural road. Photo: Getty Images
Debate over motorcycle safety was sparked after a horror weekend on New Zealand roads saw four motorcyclists killed on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Getty Images

The president of a prominent Southland motorcycle club has slammed calls for middle-aged men to be subject to extra tests when purchasing motorcycles.

Southland Motorcycle Club President Andy Underhay spoke out against the comments made by Police Minister Stuart Nash to RNZ yesterday calling for "men going through a sort of mid-life crisis'' to "pass a certain sort of test'' or "prove you can handle it [a motorcycle] in difficult sorts of situations.''

Any new test would be extra to what was already required.

Mr Nash did not provide details.

At present any new motorcycle rider must abide by the learner approved motorcycle scheme (LAMS), which helps identify a range of motorcycles appropriate for learner and restricted class 6 licence holders based on their level of experience.

LAMS prohibits new riders from using many (but not all) motorcycles of more than 250cc for a minimum of 18 months.

Mr Underhay said it was double standards.

"If an 18-year-old can get into a Subaru and crack on at 250kmh on the road, why is it OK for him to do it and not a motorcyclist?

"If you're going to bring in advanced training for motorcycle riders, to my mind I think car accidents for the younger generation are high. So why not have the same thing (for drivers). You can't pick on one set of riders and say 'you're dangerous'.''

Debate over motorcycle safety was sparked after a horror weekend on New Zealand roads saw four motorcyclists killed on Saturday afternoon.

Two riders were killed and another sustained critical injuries in Southland during a charity ride shortly before 1pm south of Otautau, near the intersection of Fairfax Isla Bank Rd and Riverton Otautau Rd.

Cronadun caregiver Jayne Jamieson (52) was killed in a separate crash on Lower Buller Gorge Rd on the West Coast shortly after 4pm.

A fourth motorcyclist was killed when they crashed into a ditch in Henderson Valley Rd, West Auckland, about 3.20pm.

Chief executive of New Zealand Motorcycling Safety Consultants Allan Kirk laid blame on the Government, saying the death toll reflected its neglect of motorcycle safety.

"Every other Western country makes anti-locks on motorcycles compulsory - they've done it for years - and yet governments have, for years, ignored that and a few other things to do with motorcycle safety, and motorcyclists have kept on dying.''

However, Mr Underhay said motorcycling in New Zealand "is at the safest on the road it has been for a number of years.''

"I think people's awareness is slightly better than it has been in the past.

"Unfortunately when an issue happens like this at the weekend it does highlight the vulnerability of motorcyclists in accidents ... road riding has its own set of risks and unfortunately this weekend across the country has proved [it is] quite obvious what those risks are.''

Programmes such as the ACC's Ride Forever programme had increased rider awareness.

The AA and ACC yesterday announced they had joined forces to help improve coaching for motorcyclists.

The AA Driving School would run the ACC-funded Ride Forever programme, with courses to be rolled out in Otago and Southland as well as Waikato, Manawatu and Wellington.

AA Driving School general manager Roger Venn said the aim of the programme was to help reduce motorcycle accidents and save lives.

"Motorcycle and scooter riders are extremely vulnerable on the road from an injury perspective.''

ben.waterworth@odt.co.nz

 

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