Sorting Fact from Fantasy

There has been a lot of bickering about motorcyclist injury statistics, what they mean and whether they relate to the rising cost of motorcyclist injury claims to ACC. I was confused by it all, so I dug into the data to sort out the facts from the fantasy. I’m an economist after all, so I turn to the numbers when there’s an argument raging and the different sides are all wound up.  If we want to have a healthy, constructive debate, we need to have our facts straight, otherwise it’s just a noisy waste of everyone’s time.

Attached are the first two parts of a 4 part series on this topic.

Please read the following artice via the link below: 

On-road motorcycling injuries Sorting fact from fantasy (PDF 213KB)


  • Oliver (Wellington)1:57 AM 11 April 2012

    You missed the point, where it seems that the record keeping that ACC currently does does not support the conclusions they are making/does not deliver the granularity to make any assumptions on who's at fault or if this was an accident on an unregistered vehicle.

  • MSAC (Wellington)1:43 AM 11 April 2012

    Thank you for all the feedback. It’s time to close off this thread and bring on the third in this series on motorcyclists’ on-road injury statistics. But before we do, I’d like to summarise the most significant points I gleaned from this thread of over 120 comments;
    • No fault means we shouldn’t pay more for our coverage than anyone else.
    Not so. It means you’re covered no matter whose fault (if there was any) the accident was.
    The no fault aspect does not mean ACC shouldn’t have different coverage premiums for different activities, with a general tendency to charge more for higher risk activities. It has done so for workplace cover for ever. If we look at road users, and the Motor Vehicle Account (funded via the annual motor relicensing levy) which provides the bulk of the money to cover on-road injuries, then clearly pedestrians and cyclists don’t pay anything. Only vehicles requiring annual licensing do. So immediately you can see some road users pay more than others. The ACC levy charged on annual motorcycle relicensing has exceeded that on cars since 1991 so it is quite erroneous to interpret “no fault” as being everyone pays the same – we do not. We will be discussing the pros and cons of levy incidence for different road users after the completion of the current discussion series on injury statistics.

    • There should be ACC levy relief for those who wear protective and/or high vis gear.
    Many of you suggested lower levies for those with a track record of no or few prior accidents or claims. The general principle being raised here is that some riders are more prone to being injured in an accident than others – namely those who have more accidents and those that don’t take as many steps to avoid accidents or prevent injury as the rest of us. Similar arguments could be raised for drivers.
    This suite of arguments starts to abandon the concept of ‘no fault’. ACC imposes different levies on activities depending on their risk. Admittedly the consistency of applying that principle is compromised by its ability to actually impose levies (cyclists and pedestrians for instance aren’t licensed to use the road so there is no collection point for an ACC levy specifically from them). If it were to move from charging differently for different classes of activity (riding versus driving) to charging individuals differently depending on various preventative or precautionary measures that individual took, then it would need an army of assessors to independently verify the claimant qualified for all the deductions. Sounds hairy to me.
    We can all agree however that measures to reduce our chances of an accident and to protect ourselves from damage arising from them, is desirable. It’s desirable not least because fewer accidents and less severe injuries will mean lower ACC levies. The more cogent way to encourage such behaviour is education and if need be, regulation. They regulate for helmets, they educate for protective clothing. They educate for driver awareness and for rider conspicuity. Whether stepping some of these up to regulation would make a material difference to the net costs of injuries, has to be determined before it could be recommended.

    • Various comments/suggestions about improving rider and driver behaviour
    At MOTO NZ we have come to grips with the general causes of our on-road injuries (look at the PIE chart on our insert in your relicensing notification envelope). We are now working through the process of evaluating ways to reduce our accident and injury toll. From this we will recommend additional measures (to what’s already out there) but only where we can see net benefits. Education (rider and driver) and road engineering solutions are our priorities but we will not shirk advocating regulatory change if it’s obvious.
    We look to the international research a lot and of course this is ongoing. Simply inferring that overseas results apply to New Zealand however is fraught with danger. For example while UK research suggested that 20% of all motorcycle accidents are single vehicle accidents, in New Zealand we know that 39% of our accidents are from loss of control, manoeuvring or pedestrians, without other vehicles being involved. The offshore research database is rich for sure, and there is a lot we can and do glean from it.

    • Rider inexperience, lack of competency is a major factor
    Sure, we can point the finger at a wide range of potential causes – getting an accurate attributions analysis is a far more difficult challenge. Remember this discussion document is not about causes, I’m simply providing the data on injuries and looking at trends in order for us to assess whether ACC had due cause to raise the levy on motorcycling as a higher risk activity with a materially greater cost of injury treatment. There are a number of agencies addressing the various causes identified and we at MOTO NZ are charged with finding gaps that we can productively fill. The point of the exercise here though is simply to ensure that everyone has access to the injury data in a useable form. I’ve always operated on the dictum that a well-informed public is incredibly rational, but it deserves to be provided the best data to inform its thinking.

    • Development of a video game to help riders
    Mike of Mt Maunganui came up with a doozy, namely to develop a video game that was attuned to NZ riding conditions, that riders could use to hone their skills. Sounds to me as something like a ‘flight simulator’. We think a “ride simulator” could be a useful educational tool – to give inexperienced riders a taste of the road and its hazards from the safely of their computer desks. It mightn’t be a bad idea to get car drivers into it too, to give them some idea of a bike’s eye view of the road. We will look into this idea, and let you know if it’s something we’re going to pursue. Thanks for the idea, Mike.


  • Stewart (Auckland)3:52 AM 10 April 2012

    "Communicating with riders

    We’ve been increasing the range of ways we communicate with our community....."

    Any chance you will be contributing on Kiwibiker in future?
    As it would be most useful for us if you found most of us on there rather than expect our opinions to fall on your lap here.
    Many people are not fans of regurgitating knowledge through different mediums, so might be wise to use some of the knowledge already out there.

  • Trish (Coromandel)3:11 AM 10 April 2012

    Hi, Nigel of Auckland 22/3 - I totally agree with you. I have just returned to riding after a twenty year break and could have gotten straight onto a large bike again, but I chose not to. I got a little 250cc cruiser to regain my confidence, kept on it for a year and now have a 650. I'm really glad I did. I think the learners should be on smaller bikes for longer periods.

  • Murray (Alexandra)2:32 AM 6 April 2012

    Mike,Rangiora; I have suspected for a while that all injuries listed by a Dr. as "motorcycle" get paid out of the ACC levy; who checks the facts, ie licence, rego wof,road/off road. I did write to Nick Smith re this and got glib reply that they don't get paid out of the m/c levy; I did not accept his answer.

  • Jonathan (Upper Hutt)4:50 AM 5 April 2012

    Well, here we go, AA has reported the following Rule changes-
    1, The speed limit for learner m/c has been repealed, now can do same speed as all other road users.
    2, new power to weight of 150kw/ton for learners, engine under 660cc max.
    3, new training initiatives.
    They also report half the number of m/c rider deaths, no multiple deaths recorded, 25% overall reduction in road deaths. So , where are the reductions in ACC levies if all the stats show the demand for m/c and other road users has dropped.

  • Mike (Rangiora)12:28 AM 5 April 2012

    Well done to all involved in this website. It is great to see someone with a voice speaking up about the completely unjustified "safety levy" (just another tax) and grossly overcharging ACC levies on motorcycles in general.
    I have much to say, but will start with an issue that Gareth has identified in his report above: "we are not dealing with farm or off-road accidents". This is just not true at all. I suspect road riders who pay the ACC levy are paying for any accidental injuries sustained when operating anything with handlebars. My proof - when i broke my leg 3 years ago on an unregistered trail bike off road, the ACC recorded a "motorcycle accident". There was no clarification, no questions ever asked whether it was a registered bike on the public roads. So how can they distinguish between road accidents and any others in statisctics if they do not capture this information at all?

  • Andy (Paraparaumu)9:14 AM 2 April 2012

    Hi Murray and thanks for your words of caution. Although not a regular bike user (two small kids have taken almost all spare time) I do enjoy the odd ride to work now and again and yet, for our collective trouble, we all get shafted with levies dearer than those paid by 16-year-olds drving Subarus...and then theres the Safety Levy too.

    I have been looking closely at the Information Act and it seems that the questions should in essence be answerable under that worthy piece of legislation with possibly one notable exception - what MotoNZ does with the money. I hope I'm wrong and that there is accountability, transparency and value for money for motorcylsits the length and breadth of NZ. I just can't see anything on the road nor anywhere else to back up that optimism just yet...

  • murray (stratford)8:16 AM 2 April 2012

    Be careful chaps... Moto NZ wants us to report on "dodgy bits of road", not suggest actions that will upset the aims and ambitions of bureaucrats! That's not what these people had in mind when MOTO NZ was set up... more likely it was about providing a safety valve where we could safely and harmlessly let of steam without being a nuisance...a bit like troublesome children who are diverted by an adult who pretends to listen while ignoring them.

    Good Luck.

  • Andy (Paraparaumu)5:24 AM 2 April 2012

    Hey Grant - in talking about us getting a good lawyer you are making the assumption that the few million collected is in the coffers first hence my questions ;-)

    A jolly good idea though and perhaps there is indeed a very capable lawyer out there who rides a bike and likes intellectual jousting ( or an argument in court). Volunteers please make yourself known!

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