Motorcyclists hitting Hawke's Bay roads in shorts, T-shirts and barefeet are putting themselves at risk of death or serious injury, a local road safety advocate warns.
RoadSafe Hawke's Bay coordinator Linda Anderson said motorbike and scooter riding was a common pastime among locals and visitors.
And while many riders adhered to safety gear recommendations, a significant number rode in "shorts and a light T-shirt and bare feet", which was disappointing, she said.
Of the 45 motorcyclists' deaths last year, two occurred in Hawke's Bay.
Ms Anderson's comments follow the release of a survey which suggested more than half of Kiwi motorcyclists disregard basic safety rules, with scooter riders identified as the worst culprits.
Short-sleeved shirts, skirts and flimsy footwear were among the "shocker" choices of some observed riders.
The Motor Trade Association (MTA) survey, which observed almost 350 riders in Wellington over the first half of the month found 51 per cent of riders were on the road without ACC-recommended safety items such as gloves, trousers or jackets.
Ms Anderson said riders should be "kitted out in leather gear with no skin showing".
High-visibility gear was also essential, she said.
MTA spokesman Hamish Stuart said the survey results, which found gloves were the most commonly omitted piece of safety gear, were alarming.
"If someone is falling off their motorcycle, it's a natural human response for them to put their hand out to protect themselves. Having proper gloves is a pretty cheap way to prevent more serious injury," he said. A lack of appropriate leg and arm protection was the second most common breach identified.
"Bare skin and tarmac don't mix well," he said.
"Skin comes off easily, and even if it's a slow speed accident, the outcome can be plenty of pain, loss of earnings and in some cases even the motorcycle itself."
The New Zealand Transport Agency estimates the social cost for a serious road injury is $401,100. This increases to about $3.8 million for a death.
Minor injuries have a social cost of $21,300.
The figures include lost earnings, medical fees and vehicle damage costs.
Mr Stuart urged riders to be extra careful on the roads.
"Bikers and scooters can be a convenient and cheap way to travel but they definitely need plenty of situational awareness, given the rider is so much more exposed."
- 338 motorbikes and scooter riders were observed in the Motor Trade Association survey carried out in Wellington between 7.30am and 6pm over the first fortnight in March.
- 171 were classed as "shocker" riders - missing at least one piece of essential safety gear, such as an adequate helmet or gloves.
- 167 were given a safety-gear rating of "pretty good" or above.
Source: Motor Trade Association