READER REPORT:

Dispelling the 'born again biker' myth

SIMON GOTLIEB
Last updated 14:30 20/02/2013
Harley Davidson
CARE NEEDED: 'Born again' riders are asked to take it slow as they get used to motorcycles.

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'Born-again' bikers proving crash-prone

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It appears that the old ''born-again'' discussion has raised its ugly head again.

Hamilton Motorcycle Riding School owner Ward Fisher has stated young riders were usually blamed, but statistics show middle-aged "born-again riders", many returning after more than 20 years away from motorbikes, were finding themselves in strife on the roads.

His mention of statistics, unaccompanied by references, is interesting, to say the least. I’d like to take the opportunity to dispel some of these myths, with the help of some actual statistics.

Over the past four decades, the number of motorcycles on New Zealand roads has fluctuated, and is currently at the highest levels since the mid 1980s. The increase in motorcycle numbers has been accompanied by a commensurate increase in the absolute number of motorcycle related accidents. No-one is denying this, although it is pleasing to see these numbers have been decreasing over the past three years.

It is commonly stated that many of these motorcycle accidents involve 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.

Younger riders are disproportionately represented in motorcycle accidents, both in New Zealand (Watson et al 2007), and internationally, (Hurt et al 1981, ACEM, 2008). It has also been shown that as age increases the likelihood of being in an at fault accident decreases, (Haque et al 2009). Specifically, Haque (2009) showed that middle-aged riders were under-represented in at fault accidents, whilst younger and older riders were over-represented. It has also been noted that the disproportionate representation of younger people involved in motorcycle accidents, regardless of experience level, is often attributed to the sensation seeking behaviour of those under the age of 20 (Watson et al 2007). Overall however, riders over 30 years of age have a lower accident rate than younger riders (Haworth et al 2002, and Watson et al 2007).

The average age of motorcyclists in New Zealand has risen from 22 in 1980 to 33 in 2005 (AA, 2007). A study in 2007 estimated the mean age in Christchurch to be about 45 years (Lamb, 2008). As might be expected, there has been a commensurate increase in the average age of motorcyclists involved in MVMA’s. However, the average age of those involved in an accident is 37, with a mode of 21. This age group is hardly a candidate for a “born-again” biker tag.

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For more detailed analysis and statistics I invite Ward Fisher to read Professor Charles Lamb’s Causal Factors in Multiple Vehicle Accidents Involving Motorcycles: An Analysis of New Zealand 2008 Accident Data, which goes into far greater depth than I can in this article.

This can be found by here.


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