Why the changes are needed

Crashes involving motorcyclists are a disproportionate contributor to deaths and injuries on New Zealand roads. In 2017, 46 motorcyclists died and a further 1,318 were injured in road crashes. This was 12 percent of all deaths and 9 percent of all reported injuries on our roads. However, motorcyclists make up less than 4 percent of the vehicle fleet and less than 2 percent of all travel. The risk of being killed or injured in road crashes is 21 times higher for motorcyclists than for car drivers over the same distance.

Several key factors contribute to the significantly higher proportion of motorcyclist fatalities compared to cars. This includes the lack of protection from injury in the event of collision and the inherent instability of motorcycles relative to cars.

Excessive wheel skidding under brake application is known to destabilise a motorcycle and increase stopping distances. Conversely, where a rider hesitates to brake sufficiently to try to avoid skidding, stopping distances also increase.

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and their simpler variant, combined braking system (CBS), can potentially reduce stopping distance and wheel lock due to hard braking or slippery road conditions. International evidence indicates that ABS has the potential to reduce motorcycle injuries by around 30 percent.


On 21 March 2019, the NZ Transport Agency released for public consultation an amendment to the Land Transport Rule: Light-vehicle Brakes 2002, which would mandate ABS for motorcycles entering the fleet. To promote motorcycle safety, the proposal would require:

  • All motorcycles entering the fleet for the first time with engine sizes over 125cc to be fitted with ABS
  • All motorcycles with engine sizes over 50cc and not exceeding 125cc to be equipped with ABS or CBS[1]

This requirement is proposed to apply to new-model motorcycles entering the fleet from 1 November 2019, and existing-model and used motorcycles from 1 November 2021. As part of consultation we are seeking feedback on these implementation dates. The proposal also includes three-wheeled variants and equivalent power in kW for electric powered variants. The proposal does not require ABS or CBS to be retrofitted to existing motorcycles. Mopeds, which are defined as having an engine size of 50cc or less, are not affected by the proposal.

The proposal includes several exceptions to allow for the limited importation of motorcycles that will not comply with the proposed Rule. In particular, the paper, following the recently adopted controls in Australia, proposes an exception for motorcycles that are imported by returning citizens and residents (limited to one per applicant), and for trial and enduro class motorcycles (used for off road motorcycling).

We are also seeking feedback on a fixed date exception from which motorcycles will not have to comply with the Rule. This would allow for the limited importation of historical and collectable motorcycles.

We are also seeking feedback on an unrelated change to the Land Transport Rule: Light-vehicle Brakes 2002 which would remove the requirement for twinned-wheeled motor tricycles to have a park brake. These specific types of motor tricycles are not manufactured with a park brake and currently the NZ Transport Agency is required to issue an exemption. This change is designed to reduce compliance costs. 

If you would like to provide your feedback on this proposal, please visit the NZ Transport Agency’s website to view the draft Rule and accompanying overview click here to view the NZ Transport Agency's consultation page(external link).

For further information please see the supporting documents that the Government considered when proposing these Rule changes.

Cabinet paper and Cabinet Committee minute

The below Regulatory Impact Analysis was prepared for the proposed changes to the Land Transport Rule: Light-vehicle Brakes 2002

The cost-benefit analysis prepared by the Ministry of Transport

As part of the policy development process, the Ministry commissioned the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) to undertake a preliminary analysis into the potential benefits of introducing a number of safety features to the New Zealand vehicle fleet, including ABS for motorcycles. This research found a significant safety benefit from ABS and recommended proceeding with investigating mandating this technology across the new and used motorcycle fleet.

The report also recommended that further analysis is undertaken of a number of other safety technologies. The Ministry is investigating further vehicle safety standards as part of the development of the new road safety strategy.



[1] The powerband requirements outlined in the draft Rule differ slightly with those as outlined in the Cabinet paper. Under the proposal as agreed by Cabinet, ABS was required for motorcycles entering the fleet for the first time with an engine size 125 and over. The policy intent was to align with Australian Design Rule 33/01, which requires ABS or CBS for motorcycles over 50cc and not exceeding 125cc. This has been corrected in the draft Rule presented for public feedback.