The Cycling Advocates’ Network (CAN) is saddened by the death of Christchurch City Councillor and former paralympian Graham Condon in a cycling accident in suburban Christchurch last Saturday. The driver of the car striking Councillor Condon was 15 years old and appears to have lost control of her car.
CAN proposes young people should not be eligible for a learner licence until the age of 16, and a full licence till the age of 19. All driver licence training and testing should cover respect for and correct behaviour around cyclists. In accidents involving cyclists, any legal assessments of fault should be weighted against the car driver, as should insurance assessments. This approach is common in European countries.
In parallel, CAN supports compulsory third-party insurance for motorists, with premiums based on motorist characteristics such as gender, age, and driving record. CAN also supports an annual ACC levy based on motorist characteristics. This is in line with calls by the Automobile Association and the Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven for tougher tests for young drivers, with a demerit-point system if they break their licence conditions.
Mckernon comments, “When a cyclist is hit by a car, people immediately conclude cycling is dangerous. But in reality car drivers cause the majority of cyclist-motor vehicle accidents, and improving car driver skills directly improves the safety of other road users.”
Ministry of Transport statistics show males and those aged 15 – 24 are at highest risk of being in accidents, with excessive speed, loss of control of the car, alcohol and drugs, and inattention being leading causes. These statistics show 60% of cyclist-related accidents are caused by the car drivers involved. Ministry of Justice statistics show the same group is most likely to be convicted for driving offences, including driving causing death or injury.
Ministry of Transport statistics also show there are currently up to 1.274 million cyclists in New Zealand per year, or nearly 1/3 of the population. These cyclists are involved in about 5% of road accidents and less than 1% of road offences. About 1 in 1,000 cyclists is seriously injured or killed compared to 5 in 1,000 car users. The Ministry estimates there are 1.3 deaths per 10,000 vehicles, and the corresponding cycling statistic is 0.1 deaths per 10,000 cycles.