As thousand of motorcycle riders gathered at the Parliament today to protest the ACC levy increase,ACC minister Nick Smith responded to by highlighting the significant increase in fatalities and claims from motorcycle accidents.
Forty six motorcyclists died last year in accidents, the highest number in a decade and nearly one a week," Dr Smith said.
"The number of motorcycle accident claims rose from 871 in 1998 to 5044 in 2008, a greater increase than any area of claims. Over the past decade the road toll has dropped by 27% from 501 to 366 while the motorcycle toll has increased 21%.These accident statistics cannot be ignored by the Government or motorcycle fraternity.
"These increases cannot be explained away by the increase in motorcycle numbers. In 1998 there was an accident claim for every 69 bikes whereas today there is a claim for every 19 bikes.
"I acknowledge today's protest and the concern of motorcyclists on the scale of the levy increases being proposed by ACC's Board. My hope is that we might turn this negative debate over levies into a positive dialogue with Government over how we can improve motorcycle safety.
"The scale of ACC's financial problems means levy increases across the board are inevitable but it is unlikely the Government will agree to the scale of increases being proposed by the ACC Board.
"ACC has received a record 2750 submissions on its levy proposals - up from 54 last year. More than 90% of the submissions are from motorcyclists. The Board will carefully consider the submissions before making recommendations to the Government.
"An option I am exploring with motorcycle clubs is a portion of the levy going into road safety programmes targeted at injury prevention. We need to work together on reversing the awful trend in motorcycle fatalities and injuries."