A motorcyclist killed on a wet Waikato road last night was the fifth person on a motorcycle to die over the weekend.
It was meant to be a Sunday ride on a summer's night, but a sudden downpour caused the motorbike to slide into a barrier. The 40-year-old rider was killed and his female passenger escaped with an arm injury.
Police say riders need to take more care.
“Drive to the conditions, slow down, leave space and just make sure you get home alive,” says Snr Sgt Rupert Friendof Waikato Police.
It's been a horror year for motorcyclists on New Zealand roads. So far there have been 42 fatalities – up 10 on this time last year. And the next few weeks will be the most dangerous.
“Motorcycle crashes tend to peak in the summer months as more riders come out and bring out bikes that may have been in storage over winter,” says national road policing manager Supt Carey Griffiths.
“And they also tend to parallel the number of registrations. There are certainly more bikes on the road, [so] drivers need to keep an eye out for bikes."
The risk of a motorcyclist being killed or seriously injured in a crash is about 18 times higher than for a car driver.
More than half of crashes involving large bikes – 500cc or bigger – are on the open road, and a higher proportion of crashes involving these types of bikes result in death rather than injury.
The increase in casualties coincides with an increase in motorcycle sales that is attributed to higher fuel prices, congestion, environmental awareness and the rise in popularity of motorcycling among older age groups.