During the summer holidays in Australia, particularly the Christmas period of December and January, there is often a national road toll recording the number of fatalities caused by car crashes on the roads within each State and nationally. This road toll serves as sombre reminder of how tragic loss can be.
Having insurance can protect you or your family from the unexpected costs that arise as a result of such tragedies. Insurance can include motor vehicle insurance, income protection, medical insurance and also life insurance.
Motorcyclists need to be particularly aware of the need for insurance, and in particular motor vehicle insurance and income protection. Although representing a significant minority of the number of motor vehicles on the roads, proportionally they represent a high number of the vehicles involved in road crashes.
Due to the vulnerability of the rider in these crashes, the injuries sustained by motorcyclist can usually range from moderate injuries to the severe or fatal. This can mean the driver is out of work for significant periods of time, and possibly also drumming up more medical bills. Insurance can provide a motorcyclist with the piece of mind of protection in life – not simply covering the cost to the car but possibly also some of the costs to any other cars hit or some immediate medical expenses and covering the loss of wages.
Appreciating the risks of motorcycling and the types of injuries sustained may assist in determining what insurance is likely required for proper protection. Below is an examination of some specific states.
New South Wales
According to Motor Cycle Crash Data 2006-2010, each year motorcycle crashes represent only 6% of all road crashes, however they represent 15% of all fatalities on NSW roads and a further 10% of all road injuries. Perhaps due to the increase in city traffic, there has also been a sharp increase of 38% of the number of registered motorcycles, compared to a 3% increase for all registered passenger vehicles. Because of this, motorcycle road safety is becoming a more prevalent issue to consider on the roads.
There are typically three reasons for motorcycle crashes:
- Single collision crashes
- Collisions with another vehicle being the fault of the motorcyclist.
- Collisions due to the other driver’s fault.
Single vehicle crashes and collisions where the other driver is at fault together comprise 78% of all road toll crashes, according to the Motor Cycle Crash Data 2006-2010.
Almost half of all single vehicle collisions arise because the motorcyclist was driving faster than he or she could see; not necessarily speeding, but driving too fast. Where a crash was caused by the fault of the other driver, a significant majority happened at t-intersections or roundabouts, or other types of junctions where the driver wasn’t seen. As for the third category of the motorcyclist being at fault, these car collisions typically involve front end or rear end collisions where the driver simply did not leave a large enough gap.
Out of 13,386 motorcycle collisions between 2006-2010, according to the motor cycle Crash data, 13,058 of these collisions involved an injury to the driver of some sort. Of those, 316 were killed.
In Victoria, according to the Transport Accident Commission, from 2003-2013 motorcyclists represented 14% of all state road fatalities, and 16% of all hospitalised injuries. Looking at the year 2012/2013, registered motorcycles represented only 4% of the total number of registered vehicles on Victorian roads, and yet comprised 17% of the road death toll for that year. A total number of 41 riders or their passengers out of 243 people were killed.
Of the 41 riders or their passengers who died in 2013, 64% involved single vehicle crashes or collisions with another vehicle where the other driver was at fault (being at an intersection of some sort). Almost 41% of deaths on motorcycles occurred on roads sign posted at 100km/hour or more, which again suggests that driving at speed had a correlation with the fatalities, not necessarily speeding but driving fast.
According to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, motor cyclists represented 16.7% of all road fatalities in 2011 in Queensland.Similar to the position in NSW, the number of registered motorcycles has increased by 40% in the period 2006 to 2011, again probably due to the increase in traffic.
In 2011, there were 47 motorcyclists involved in fatal car collisions. And in all but one of those collisions, it was the motorcyclist who tragically died. Again, the most common contributing factor for crashes involving motorcycles was because the driver was driving too fast.
The Office of Road Safety reported that in 2013 motorcyclists represented 15% of all fatalities on Western Australian roads. This figure seems similar with the other States cited above. Again, similar with the other States, the fatalities occurred on roads where the speed limit was greater than 110km/hour, suggesting speeding is a prime cause of motorcycle deaths.
Motor vehicle usage is a critical part of Australian lifestyle: almost every Australian owns a motor vehicle of some sort, be it a motorcycle, motor car, heavy vehicle, or light vehicle. The above statistics shows that although motorcyclists represent the minority of vehicles on the roads, they represent a proportionally high number of fatalities or severe injuries sustained on state roads.
Given this fact, affording insurance – particularly motor vehicle, medical insurance and income protection, should be as much a part of the motorcyclists budget as shopping for food.