19 Nov 2018

Men in 'mid-life crisis' causing motorcycle deaths - Nash

11:44 am on 19 November 2018

A spate of motorcycle deaths at the weekend could trigger a new licence test for motorcyclists who purchase big powerful bikes.

Wellington Motorcycle fun riders, a group of keen riders who meet up for a group ride to Martinborough.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Three motorcycle crashes on Saturday killed four people.

Crashes involving other types of vehicles over the weekend took the annual road toll above 330 - roughly the same number as this time last year, which went on to be the worst since 2009.

A total of six people died in crashes at the weekend.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said there was no silver bullet for road safety but if more regulation was required then it could be looked at.

Both Mr Nash and the Police Association president Chris Cahill said the road toll was nearing crisis point and in the case of motorcycle deaths the anecdotal evidence suggested it was middle-aged men who did not have the experience to handle large motorbikes who were involved in most accidents.

"Dare I say it, it's a lot of men going through a sort of mid-life crisis ... they go out there and buy a big powerful bike and they just haven't got the skills and experience to handle it when they get into trouble and they kill themselves," Mr Nash said.

Police conference in Wellington.Police Minister Stuart Nash.

Police Minister Stuart Nash Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

"Whether there needs to be something in place where if you buy a motorcycle over a certain CC rating then you have to pass a certain sort of test or you've got to be able to prove you can handle it in difficult sorts of situations.

"We need to be looking to do something different because too many people are dying on our roads."

Mr Nash said at some point people had to take personal responsibility for the country's horrific road toll.

"People need to understand their limitations and ride to those limitations. It's a tricky thing to say but if we want to stay safe on our roads we actually need to be a little bit honest about how good we are in certain circumstances."

Motorcycle deaths and injuries by age group.

Motorcycle deaths and injuries by age group. Photo: Ministry of Transport

Not wearing a seatbelt and driving while impaired or fatigued are still three of the biggest contributors to fatalities.

Mr Nash said laws were not made to annoy people, they were there to ensure people got home safely.

Mr Cahill wants to see better roads, improved safety conditions and an education campaign around safe driving to try and tackle the high number of deaths on New Zealand roads.

He said the solution was more than just extra police on the road.

"We need to recognise that this is growing to a crisis.

"We need to put a lot of heads together and make sure we come up with a plan that involves not just more policing but also better roads, better safety conditions and look at what can actually be done to educate the public better on safe driving.''

Ministry of Transport figures show 333 deaths so far this year. The total for 2017 was 380.

The figures include the number of pedestrians fatally hit by vehicles - this year that number stands at 39.