Research and evaluation programme

Our research and evaluation programme helps us gather sound evidence and improves our intelligence around effective motorcycle safety strategies

Research and evaluation

We are required to provide sound evidence that the projects we recommend to ACC for investment have a good chance of succeeding. Our research and evaluation programme helps provide that evidence and improves our intelligence around effective motorcycle safety initiatives. It also helps motorcyclists and other road users to understand how and why projects are accepted or not, and provides an insight into the value of using an evidence-based approach, rather than relying on 'street talk'.

New research

If there isn't already adequate information or research available on a safety topic we're investigating, we may commission new research studies to help in the decision-making process. Research helps us to understand the issue in more depth, identify appropriate solutions, and be confident that any recommendations we make for MSL funding are based on solid evidence for positive safety outcomes for motorcyclists. An example is our work on roadside barriers. We agreed with the many motorcyclists we've heard from that roadside barriers are seen as safety issue for motorcyclist. Wasn't clear, was how they could be designed or modified to make them safer for motorcyclists. In this case, we commissioned research into options for protective coverings on existing barriers, and developing standards for better barrier design and safety standards in future.

Literature reviews

Literature reviews can help us provide the evidence we need when making proposals for MSL investment to ACC. They can also help us improve our own knowledge and focus, so we are confident we're concentrating on initiatives that have the best potential outcomes for motorcycle safety.

A literature review is a thorough survey of published research on a particular topic. It results in a document that gives us an overview of the subject, and identifies gaps and recommendations.

The Visibility Project began with a literature review. We knew urban intersections are accident hot-spots for motorcyclists, and that intersection crashes often involved a driver who "looked, but failed to see" the oncoming motorcycle, or underestimated the motorcycle's speed of approach. Before we could recommend any initiatives for MSL funding to remedy this problem, we needed to understand the issue properly, know the potential solutions, and be clear about the effectiveness of different solutions. The literature review provided us with this information, and informed our decision to focus our effort on vehicle lighting, and proceed with the field trials of different lighting configurations.

Field trials

We may invest in field trials, if we need evidence of the effectiveness of a safety feature or strategy. We did this recently in Auckland, to test the effectiveness of additional lights on motorcycles -- to see if other road users saw them more often and sooner, and if they were better able to just the approaching speed. Without the field trials, we would all just be guessing whether DRLs make you safer or not. Read more about the trials on The Visibility Project page.


Three pieces of research have been completed to date:

  1. “Effective targeting of motorcycle counter-measures” report was completed in February 2014. The Accident Research Centre at Monash University were commissioned by MSAC to review the range of motorcycle safety measures available and prioritise which are likely to be most effective in the New Zealand environment. The report is being used to guide the Council’s future investment in motorcycle safety initiatives (2013/14).
  2. “Motorcycle Crashes into Roadside Barriers – Stage 4” was completed in December 2014 by the University of New South Wales. The purpose of the research is to investigate options to make road safety barriers for motorcyclists that reduce the injury risk. This report is part of a ‘suite’ of Research Reports carried out by the University into the road-side barrier impacts on motorcycles. The other reports can be found on the University of New South Wales website.
  3. A literature review and a field experiment were carried out by the English based Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in order to inform the quest for interventions to increase motorcycle safety by improving their visibility which might be implemented in New Zealand. 2 reports were completed:
    • “literature review of interventions to improve the conspicuity of motorcyclists (2012). 
    • field studies to test the effect of two novel lighting configurations on the conspicuity of motorcycles (2014).