The other day I posted an article about ACC levies on motorcycle riders. The conclusion I reached, once I got to grips with what was happening in the motorcycling injury scene and what is driving ACC’s bills in this area, is that it’s pretty obvious that the levy should be charged per rider – say through an annual rider licence renewal fee. After reading some of the comments I feel there are a few misconceptions out there so let’s sort those.
A ‘no fault’ system has nothing to do with the ACC levy you pay for a certain activity. On-road motorcycling – which is the subject under discussion – is deemed to be a higher than normal risk activity. ACC made that call years ago and hence the ACC fees we pay each year are demonstrably higher than those associated with riding in 4-wheeled vehicles for example. In fact if you adjust for the far fewer person-kilometres travelled on motorcycles the ACC levy we pay to ride is hugely higher. This reflects the risk of the activity. I’m not defending it, I’m simply telling you the reality. Further this has absolutely nothing to do with who is at fault in a particular accident.
The ‘no fault’ system simply says that if an accident occurs then ACC pays up, no matter who’s fault it is. That principle isn’t related to the levies for particular activities. People get confused on this constantly – they think no fault means we should all pay the same. It doesn’t, it means we get paid out no matter whose fault the accident was.
Next, some have suggested that if the accident is the fault of a car say then it’s unfair to have levied the motorcyclist in the way I suggest. That is confused logic. The levy amount reflects the risk of the activity not who causes the accidents. Generally speaking if two cars collide the passengers don’t get injured as much as motorcyclists do in a car vs motorcycle situation. So no matter who causes the injury to the motorcyclist, the activity of motorcycling is more risky, and with that the injury bill is higher.
The principle is that those engaging in higher risk activities should pay more of its costs. And remember – as I showed in the series of articles written on http://motonz.org.nz/ – the chance of injury per person kilometre from on-road riding is up to 40 times as high.
The amount we pay in ACC levies is nothing like that. If we were to be charged full cost recovery under the current per motorcycle regime the annual license fee wouldn’t be $528, it would be $3,585. So a little humility on the part of some riders whingeing no end about how their hard done by, is due. There’s a limit to the bludging the public should tolerate.
I know, I know you’re going to point the finger at rugby players for example and ask why they aren’t under user pays – or pedestrians or bicycle riders. It’s all about the size of the bill. For on-road motorcycling the injury bill is miles bigger per person than those other activities. So there comes a point with a universal entitlement, flat fee regime that its credibility is pushed to the limit. This has happened with on-road motorcycling injuries.
The big advance we have to make is to reward riders for being sensible. It is clear that the reward of not getting injured isn’t enough. Otherwise we wouldn’t have 30% of all claims being made due to dumb rider error. That’s a high enough number to warrant a charging regime that rewards riders for self-management, and penalises those who wish to raise the already-high risk of injury by riding beyond their competency levels. A regime that ensures returning riders go through a remedial riding course, and a regime that provides riders levy relief if they’re happy to accept less than 80% income compensation for time off.
All of this is commonsense and if we’re serious about reducing the levy costs we’re having to pay for on-road riding injuries, we should be demanding these changes. Shagging round with road design, conspicuity of rider and bike, and roadside ads to tell motorists to look out for the motorcycle – is the sort of fiddling about that occurred while Rome burned.