Motorcycle safety courses are saving lives
Simon Gotlieb had motorcycling in his blood, but is ‘‘100 per cent certain’’ he would have died if he had not had proper training.
Motorcycle safety courses aim to reduce the number of serious crashes associated with New Zealand’s riskiest mode of transport. In 2017 about 16 per cent of all road deaths were motorcyclists, yet they make up less than 3 per cent of all road users.
Gotlieb’s father and grandfather rode motorbikes and he learnt to ride at the age of 12, but his lifetime of riding included a lifetime of bad habits until a friend introduced him to the Ride Forever course.
‘‘I found out that I was thinking I had 30 years’ experience, but it was more 30 years’ experience making the same mistake again and again.’’
Gotlieb had been riding his bike along Paeka¯ka¯riki Hill Rd in Porirua to get to and from work for a decade. On September 11, a car pulled out of a driveway in front of him.
‘‘I had been driving down this road for 10 years and I had never paid attention to this driveway.’’
He had about three seconds to react due to the 80 kilometre an hour speed limit. He broke his leg and ankle and received nerve damage to his shoulder, which caused some paralysis.
‘‘If I hadn’t been doing that training, and if I hadn’t learnt how to do emergency braking, I’m 100 per cent certain that I would have been dead,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m immensely grateful for the training.’’
In 2017, 44 motorcyclists died and 1309 were injured in road crashes – making up about 10 per cent of all reported injuries on New Zealand roads.
Decreased stability, lower levels of protection and less visibility to other motorists give motorcycling a higher level of risk than other modes of transport.
A $12.1m three-year investment in motorcycle safety initiatives was launched by ACC on July 1 last year. It’s funded by the motorcycle safety levy, part of motorbike registration fees, and is overseen by the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council.
The Ride Forever programme costs riders $50. The bronze level is for beginner riders and teaches the basics of motorcycle safety, the silver course is for those who have just received their restricted licence or are returning riders, and the gold level allows full licence riders to improve their safety.
Dan Ornsby has been riding and racing motorcycles since the age of 10 and has provided safety training courses in Christchurch for about five years.
He thinks courses like Ride Forever should be compulsory for motorcyclists as they provide riders with the ability to deal with dangerous situations before they happen.
‘‘It’s a day out with likeminded people with the sole focus of getting more out of your riding.’’
Last year, 146,569 motorcycles were on New Zealand’s roads – 6367 more than 2016.
Rider Simon Gotlieb in hospital after his serious motorcycle accident in Porirua in September. He credits a motorcycling training course, like the one pictured left, with his survival.