A Road Safety Initiative That Might Actually Work?

In Backchat on Saturday, Huia, one of our long time commenters, made some comments about her lovely day spent wandering about the sunny climes of the Coromandel. Part of that was the following observations and thoughts about motorcyclists.

Stopped off in Coromandel on the way back and it was humming, very busy. 
Headed home met several motor cyclists with a death wish, they seemed to be going for a track record by sitting on the white line leaning into our lane on corners. We were lucky (and so were they), no heads in helmets stuck on the truck anywhere which was good, because its a massive job to clean up when that happens.

Your wheels might be legal, but your head won’t care when you get clobbered.

Funny that Huia should make this observation just a couple of days after the ACC announced that they are instigating a new road safety initiative aimed at motorcyclists, in the form of a cashback allowance for riders who have completed their Ride Forever courses.

Ride Forever is actually an extremely good course. I have a number of friends who have completed it, including a number of ex and current Police motorcycle officers and, to a person, they all rate the course as very worthwhile.

The courses are naturally aimed at preventing injury and, by extension, how much the ACC has to pay out on claims, of which there are plenty. ACC have covered 36,000 injury claims in the last five years including 248 deaths.

So it is pleasing to see ACC come up with a plan to refund $100 from riders’ registration licence fees for two years to people who have completed the appropriate level course. There are a couple of concerns I have with the plan; the major one being that the rider must have held a motorcycle licence for five years before becoming eligible. I think that is a bit short-sighted and it should be open to everyone but I understand that this is a pilot scheme and not everyone will be covered because of financial constraints. By doing it like this, they are concentrating on the ‘over 40’s’ who are over-represented in the stats, due mainly to us oldies getting back into the motorcycling game after a few years out making families etc.

To me, this scheme is great forward thinking, and value for money wise, it’s a great idea. Who wouldn’t want to save money on their rego, simply by doing what is already a heavily subsidised course that actually might save your life? Well I guess there are a few short sighted individuals who think they know everything. I suppose some of them might have been the riders who were so keen on having their heads removed by Huia’s bullbars.

One thing does make me go hmm though. The NZTA has also been in the game trying to make riding safer for people riding what they call the Coromandel Loop.

A click on the link above will take you to the NZTA page where they are actually encouraging motorcyclists to ride this and other areas, even providing maps. They take pride that they are being safety conscious, providing better barriers and drainage, better sightlines and even a helicopter pad for the rescue chopper when the rider invariably mucks it up because, by improving the sightlines, everyone can now go faster!

Honestly, I’m not sure that this is a great idea. Better roads are great but I wonder, if your plan is to reduce motorcycle-based carnage, wouldn’t it be better to discourage them from the area rather than to make it easier to ride faster? And this at a time when the speed limit Nazis (Greens) are intent on crushing speed limits all over the nation. Under them, most of these roads would have a 60km/h maximum speed anyway. Perhaps the NZTA is just acknowledging that people won’t obey stupid speed limits anyway?

Typical sunday view from Huia’s truck!

But don’t get me wrong, I love a good bike ride as much as the next guy, and I love hooning on the Coromandel roads. It just seems that as a road safety measure, the ACC pilot scheme might lead to better results overall but we’ll see. It will be assessed in 2021 to see if it should be rolled out in a more substantive manner. Certainly, the initial stats around the Drive Forever program are encouraging, with people who have completed a course being 27% less likely to make an ACC claim. That’s a pretty big deal.

I hope it gets extended. And maybe in the future it could include things like Defensive Driving Courses or decent quality driver training for car drivers.

I would be interested to hear from any commenters who have completed the Drive Forever courses and what your impressions were. Please feel free to add your two cents worth below.

Safer driving everybody.