ACT News

Report calls for overhaul of motorbike licensing system in Australia

A new discussion paper has called for an overhaul of the motorcycle licensing system in Australia to reduce the increasing proportion of motorcyclists killed on Australian roads. 

The report, which was prepared by Dr Ron Christie, found motorcyclists had the highest crash, fatality and injury risk of all motorised travellers on Australian roads.  

At risk: Motorcyclists have  the highest crash, fatality and injury risk of all motorised travellers on Australian roads.
At risk: Motorcyclists have the highest crash, fatality and injury risk of all motorised travellers on Australian roads. 

Motorcycle fatalities accounted for 18 per cent of road fatalities in Australia during 2013, which is an increase on the 12 per cent recorded in 2003 according to the Department of Infrastructure's annual road deaths statistics.

"Given the increase in the number of licensed motorcycle riders, the number of registered motorcycles and the annual distance travelled by motorcycles, it is not surprising that the number of motorcycle riders as a proportion of all Australian road users killed increased," said Dr Christie.

The report recommended a number of changes to the licensing system in Australian states and territories, including the requirement for learners to have a car license for at least a year before sitting a motorcycle test.

"This requirement would effectively increase the minimum motorcycle learner permit age to 17 and reduce exposure-to-risk for novice riders as they gain initial solo driving experience in a lower risk vehicle," he said.


But NRMA ACT president Alan Evans was unsure this recommendation would reduce the number of motorcycle crashes or fatalities and suggested additional attention should be given to theoretical and practical training. 

"You could argue it should be done in reverse as well as car drivers are often the ones who are causing collisions with cyclists and motorcyclists," he said.

Dr Christie also recommended learner riders no longer be asked to travel at lower speeds on freeways and high-speed roads, as required in NSW. 

"No strong scientific evidence shows that restricting novice riders or drivers to limits below that for other road users reduces crashes," he said.

"On the contrary, existing evidence suggests that crash risk for novices and other road users rises the greater the differential between individual vehicle speeds and the stream speed of the traffic."

Mr Evans said this recommendation was welcome as many motorcyclists from the ACT were required to slow down to 80km/h on freeways while travelling interstate, which he considered counter-productive to road safety.  

"The problem is they become mobile traffic hazards when they travel at a slower speed than everyone else around them," he said.

"We should be making sure our learners are able to get used to riding at the same speed as everyone else."

The report made a number of other recommendations including requiring learners to constantly wear protective clothing and have their lights turned on, and removing fast-track concessions for those completing training and supervision programs. 

To obtain a motorcycle license in the ACT, a person must be at least 16 years and nine months old and undertake a government-accredited training course.

Should an applicant not have driver license they must also successfully complete a theoretical and knowledge test based on ACT road rules.