Riders hospitalised at 'alarming rate'

Car drivers are putting Bay of Plenty motorcyclists in hospital at an alarming rate, say health authorities.

The number of Bay motorcyclists hospitalised following accidents increased by 56 per cent over the last year, with around a third of them put there by car drivers.

Car drivers are putting motorcyclists in hospital at an alarming rate.

Local bike riders are four times more likely to be hospitalised than the national average, a report reveals.

The Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) Trauma Service’s report into the region’s road traffic crashes states there were 50 hospitalisations resulting from motorcycle accidents this year compared to 32 in 2013.

“There has been an alarming increase in motorcycle accident-related admissions to Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals over the last 12 months,” says trauma-orientated consultant Mr Barnaby Smith.

“And 16 per cent of the motorcyclists admitted to our hospitals were not wearing helmets. This impacts on the severity of sustained injuries and has potentially life-altering effects.”

As the holiday season approaches, the report’s authors hope its findings act as a warning to road users to remain vigilant and take safety precautions.

Although motorcycles represent just 0.5 per cent of total vehicular travel time and usage, 31 per cent of hospital admissions from accidents in 2014 were motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to be involved in an accident compared with other road users. However in the Bay over the last year this statistic was multiplied fourfold, says BOPDHB Trauma Service Clinical Nurse Specialist Katrina O’Leary

“This trend was seen in both the eastern and western Bay, with motorcycle crash sites from Waihau Bay to Waihi Beach,” says Katrina.

“Notably, the majority of accidents in the region occurred within the urban streets of our district’s towns and cities.”

The 50 motorcyclists admitted to hospital stayed for an average of five days. The causes of their accidents were given as:

15 vehicles pulling across path of motorcycle, 10 alcohol related, nine related to excessive speed, seven hit an object, four were down to road conditions, four lost traction and one was due to a medical condition.

“Almost a third of motorcycle accidents were due to driver error of oncoming cars,” adds Katrina.

Each year every trauma admission to Tauranga and Whakatane hospitals is recorded and analysed by the Trauma Service. Since its inception in 2011 there has been an increasing proportion of accidents involving motorcycles.

The 50 motorcycle accidents formed part of a total of 174 motor vehicle crashes on the Bay’s roads in 2014. This compared to 162 in 2013. The report covered data in the 12 months to October 31st 2014.

“We found that nearly a third of traffic accident patients in the last 12 months were riding a motorcycle,” says Katrina.

“With the holiday season approaching, and inevitably more vehicle miles being driven on our roads, it is important for all road users to be aware of the risks and to ride and drive with caution.”


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