2020 equal-deadliest year for motorcyclists in New Zealand in 25 years

2020 was the equal-deadliest year for motorcyclists on New Zealand roads in 25 years.

That's the grim picture from the Ministry of Transport's provisional data that reveals 57 riders and passengers didn't make it home last year.

It goes down as the equal-most deadly year since 1995 when 78 motorcyclists were killed on roads.

Sergeant Peter Sowter of the Wellington serious crash unit says the figures make for poor reading.

"Breaks my heart in some ways when I'm reading the files to see that it just needs a small adjustment in attitude, a small adjustment in speed," he says.

It's those adjustments that police say could save lives.

But with more motorcycles on our roads than ever before, safety advocates warn riders need a high level of skill. 

"So if you've taken time away [from riding], there's a good chance you're not going to be as good as you were when you were riding every day," ACC injury prevention leader David Keilty says.

It took Wellington man Simon Gotlieb months to get back on his bike after surviving a crash with a vehicle on a state highway three years ago.

He's one of the lucky ones to survive - he almost lost his arm and he broke multiple bones.

"Learning emergency braking techniques made the difference for me between being a fatality and being a injury accident," Gotlieb says.

It's that training and making good choices that could save more motorcyclists' lives.

"So that in 10 years' time they can take their daughter down the aisle at the wedding, that they can be at their son's 21st birthday," Sowter says.

"Make those the priority instead of getting past that truck that's right in front of you."

Otherwise, more families will go through the heartache of losing a loved one.