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Motorbike use up, but testing times ahead

The rising popularity of motorcycles and the vulnerability of riders has prompted a review of licensing in Queensland.

The rising popularity of motorcycles and the vulnerability of riders has prompted a review of licensing in Queensland.

Motorcycles are more popular than ever but becoming a biker in Queensland is set to become a whole lot tougher in the wake of a report from a government inquiry into motorcycle licensing tabled at Parliament today.

According to the committee charged with investigating the licensing process, there is “ample evidence” the state's current system can be improved, with 12 recommendations for change made to the Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson.

Chief among them is the call for an independent evaluation of the state's two-pronged Q-Ride and Q-SAFE approach, and the introduction of heavier testing before and after a licence is granted.

The testing would include compulsory pre-learner off-road training and assessment, specific risk taking and hazard perception training and follow-up “skills refreshment” for riders returning to their bikes after time off the road.

The rider knowledge test also needed more questions, the committee found. Currently, the Queensland test has only five questions, and applicants can pass with four correct responses.

In his forward to the report, Chairman Howard Hobbs said the committee had taken the inquiry very seriously due to the rising popularity of motorcycles and the fact riders were “inherently more vulnerable” than car drivers.

“Unfortunately this means riders involved in a crash are often seriously injured or lose their lives,” Mr Hobbs said.

“The committee is mindful of the immense personal, social, economic and health costs this road trauma imposes on the Queensland community.”

According to the report, male riders are most likely to be injured, comprising 92.5 per cent of serious crashes involving motorcycles where gender was known. Riders aged between 40 and 49 years were the age group most at risk, though novice riders of any age were more likely than experienced riders to crash.

The most common circumstance of serious crashes involving a motorcycle is colliding with another vehicle at an angle (31.6 per cent), followed by motorcyclists falling from their motorcycle (25.9 per cent), and hitting an object (18.5 per cent). For the period between 2008 and 2011, TMR calculated that the key contributing factors attributed to motorcycle riders in single-vehicle fatal crashes were speeding (43.9 per cent), drink driving (illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration) (35.2 per cent) and/or other alcohol or drug use (8 per cent).

However, the committee also found fatality rates per registered vehicle for motorcyclists in the state have been falling since 2007, with only 3.02 riders per 10,000 registered motorcycles involved in fatal crashes for the period to date (the national average is 3.39).

That comes as the popularity of motorcycling continues to rise. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures quoted in the committee report, motorcycles as a vehicle type recorded the highest growth over the five-year period from 2006-2011.

The data also shows that as of January last year, 23.1 per cent of the 678,790 registered motorcycles in Australia were registered in Queensland, putting the state third behind New South Wales and Victoria. But when adjusted per head of population, Queensland has the second-highest number of motorcycles registered, after Western Australia.

14 comments

  • Motorcycles are the only viable transport option for many people in less developed countries making up the majority of road users in many cases. Travellers to these places will note that the removal of motorcycles in these places, if replaced by cars, would grind the transport system to a halt. The large amount of motorcycles means that all road users are aware of their presence unlike in Australia where most drivers (cars) are not actively looking for bikes (or anything other than cars, trucks, and buses). While it is true that motorcyclists are more vulnerable this is largely because of the ignorance of drivers as the riders are trained to be vigilant through the extensive training already required.
    With the current road congestion experienced in SE QLD is it not possible that many are turning to bikes to reduce commute times and costs? The motorways are clogged with cars in peak hour and many motorists are burning expensive fuel sitting in gridlock. Unless governments keep pouring billions into roads and public transport this will only get worse. Motorbikes offer a solution to this. If QLD was to look at VIC they would see that in Melbourne city motorcyclists have free street parking on city footpaths. Imagine if tolls were halved for motorcycles, parking was free, bikes are cheap to run, traffic filtering was allowed at 10kmh through stationary traffic.... gridlock would be reduced and people would have a viable transport alternative offering great savings. And, the more motorcyclists out there, the greater the visibility to drivers.
    Instead of punishing motorcyclists (for their own good) governments should be looking at the infrastructure savings to be made by encouraging riders and educating ignorant drivers.

    Commenter
    steveni
    Location
    Gold Coast
    Date and time
    October 22, 2012, 5:09PM
    • I agree that testing can get better, but not just for motorcyclists, but also for other road users. Too frequently, people on the road are not paying attention, but also, they don't know how to merge, or change lanes, or simple things like give way.

      Also, bike parking is already free in most areas, tolls are half price for bikes.

      And filtering is not specifically allowed or disallowed in the road act, but they will get you for something else like sharing a lane with a car, not enough distance from a car or something similar.

      Commenter
      Scooterist
      Location
      On the scoot
      Date and time
      October 23, 2012, 1:37PM
  • While its true motorcyclists are more at risk of serious injury or fatal accidents.
    An examination of the statistics will show that in most accidents involving a motorcycle and another vehicle that the other vehicle was at fault.
    Not that changes the end result.
    So Motorcyclists should now under go more testing before and after holding a licence,{involving yet more money] yet everybody in a car does a test at 17 and then is never tested or reviewed until they are 85?
    Just remember that when you see a Bike that somebody's son ,daughter or father,brothers life is at stake.
    Lets all look out for each other.And put down your damn phone!!
    Cue rabid drivers.......

    Commenter
    Notsohard
    Date and time
    October 22, 2012, 5:49PM
    • Yes, motorcyclists are at more risk of serious injury, however it appears they take more risks, especially the young ones on sports bikes. I have lost count on the number of times I have seen a motorcyclist cut in front of me in heavy traffic, zoom past me at at least 20-30km per hour faster than the speed limit. Putting them through more aggressive testing is not going to solve the problems. Educating them of what can happen if they don't abide by the rules, take them through the casualty wards in hospitals where there are accident victims. Get them to a stage they will need counselling. It may sound cruel, but they will not learn otherwise. They have the attitude that they are invincible.

      Commenter
      J.G.
      Date and time
      October 22, 2012, 6:35PM
      • Did you notice all the ones in cars doing the same thing?
        I agree with you to some extent but I dont think you can change the basic mindset of 18 to 25,hence insurance prices but I can tell you that the learning curve for a motorcyclist tends to be fairly steep compared to the idiot that writes off 2 or 3 unroadworthy Hyundai's before their 23rd birthday.

        Commenter
        Notsohard
        Date and time
        October 22, 2012, 9:01PM
    • I have lost count of the number of times I have nearly been permanently removed from the face of the planet by some moron talking on their phone, or even worse TEXTING whilst trying to drive their car or 4 WD. Yet these fools keep getting away with it, whilst motorcyclists end up paying more and more money to simply get a license. Lets educate the car drivers because, trust me when I say that, motorcyclists already know how hard the road is if they are mowed down by a car!

      Commenter
      Motorcyclist
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      October 22, 2012, 7:18PM
      • I'd like to see mandatory sentencing for drivers of cars and trucks who hit motorcyclists and bicyclists. A bit of motivation and they might actually be aware of what is going on around them. Alternatively, penalties to be multipled by axles, or by the size or weight of the vehicle. I couldn't count how many times as a cyclist I had trucks, especially cement trucks, try to kill me just for fun and I most definitely observe all road rules. The addition of a motor isn't much better but at least I have a chance now of getting away from thug drivers and those who have their heads wedged firmly up their behinds. I'm a 40 year old woman, not some foolish boy-racer.

        Commenter
        Melz
        Date and time
        October 22, 2012, 7:39PM
    • Car and Truck drivers {those who behave professionally not included} continue to endanger cyclist and motorcyclists simply because of 'perceived threat value'in other words I'm in 2 tonne or more of metal and if he hits me all I have to say is I didn't see him and there will be a small fine or even less.They dont do it to Outlaw bikers for a reason you know,it's all about consequences.

      Commenter
      Notsohard
      Date and time
      October 22, 2012, 8:56PM
      • If everyone that wanted a car licence had to do a year on a moped first i believe we would have better car and motorbike driver/rider behaviour on the roads... Maybe its time to have registration and licensing for cyclists as well.

        Commenter
        Barry Anthony
        Location
        Moggill
        Date and time
        October 22, 2012, 10:33PM
        • But in Qld it's the other way around. You have to have a car licence first. Not because it might cause fewer crashes but because some of the safetycrats believe that if people get a car licence first then they might not get a motorcycle licence. It's about "reducing exposure". Have a look at the discredited paper done for the Tasmanian govt a few years ago by Narelle Haworth where this is explicitly spelt out.

          Commenter
          Anthony
          Date and time
          October 23, 2012, 12:43PM

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