There has been a great deal of public comment in New Zealand in recent years about the over-representation of motorcyclists in accident statistics. Not only has it been alleged that motorcyclists are at fault in 87 percent of all accidents in which they are involved, it is also commonly stated that many of these individuals are born again bikers whose mid-life crises have led to them being over-represented in crash statistics, through lack of their ability to ride modern day motorcycles. Such popular misconceptions have had a substantial influence on accident compensation policy and road safety initiatives.
This paper reviews national and international research on motorcycle accidents. It then summarizes a detailed analysis of Transport New Zealand’s (TNZ) Crash Analysis System
(CAS) database. The New Zealand case is then compared with international studies. An examination of the various assumptions made by policy makers is presented, with particular reference to analysis of the crash data. Notably, the results of the analysis highlight visibility as a dominant cause of multiple vehicle accidents involving motorcycles in New Zealand.