Courses providing special training for motor-cyclists can make a huge difference to the nation's high accident rates, a Christchurch motor-cycling instructor says.
Dan Ornsby, who teaches a motor-cycle-specific course similar to defensive driving, told The Star riders of all ages needed to be extra careful when out on the road - even veteran riders.
"We see a lot of people who haven't ridden for 20 or so years, and they may be full licence riders but things are quite different when they get on a bike again."
New rules announced this week aimed at reducing the number of motor-cyclists killed and maimed on New Zealand roads were likely to help, but riders were ultimately responsible for themselves, Mr Ornsby said.
"People need to understand it's about treating the bike with respect ... and being aware of their surroundings."
Nationally, motor-cyclists are 20 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed in a crash than other motorists. Hundreds of riders have died in the last decade.
Twenty-one motor-cyclists have died in crashes already this year nationwide. And in Christchurch, 38 motor-cycling injuries were recorded between January and April.
From October 1, learner and restricted level motor-cycle licences will be required to comply with a new motor-cycle performance rating system, which measures motor-cycle against their riders using a power-to-weight ratio.
Currently, riders are limited to choosing a bike that falls within the appropriate engine capacity for their licence class, regardless of their weight or size.
Riders on their restricted licences will also be required to remain on this level for a minimum 18 months, regardless of age or extra qualifications.
Currently motor-cycle riders over 25 or those who have completed an approved defensive driving course can reduce the time they need to spend at the restricted level.
It will also become harder to obtain a motor-cycle licence as tougher standards for the basic handling skills test kick in on November 1.
Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced the changes earlier this week, which were designed to combat New Zealand's high motor-cycle road toll.
"In the past 10 years 370 motorcyclists have been killed and more than 10,000 have been injured on New Zealand roads, and annual motor-cycle casualties have increased by 58 per cent.
"These measures, in addition to those introduced last year, will help motor-cyclists begin their riding careers safely."
However, a motor-cycling advocate warned that safety for motorcyclists would not improve unless appropriate courses up-skilling riders were introduced.
"If you don't improve their riding skills, then you're not improving their safety on the roads," said Finn Nielsen, coordinator for the Ride Right Ride Safe programme and member of the national Bike Rights Organisation.
"The fact is the courses they have available are only for people in cars."
While the introduction of a power-to-weight ratio scheme was a step in the right direction, without specific courses for motor-cyclists, safety on the road would continue to be a major concern, he said.