Motorcycle safety is once again in the spotlight in Queensland as the Queensland Police Service (QPS) and local media focus on the rising fatality rates among riders.
South East Queensland, especially the Gold Coast, are the worst areas.
A QPS media release this week stated that “Last year, 47% of all fatal traffic crashes across the South Eastern Policing Region involved motorcycles, more than double the state average.”
“The majority of the region’s 15 fatal motorcycle crashes (80%) took place in the Gold Coast Hinterland and rural areas of Logan District.”
That was more than double the 7 riders killed in 2014, and three times the 5 that lost their lives in 2013.
Mick Doohan, who won five consecutive 500cc World Championships, has been quoted in local Gold Coast media as saying that “the State’s motorcycle licensing needs to be brought in line with international standards to stop carnage on our roads”.
Queensland’s motorcycle licensing system has been under review since early last year, and new legislation is expected to be implemented this year.
“I totally believe we need to up the levels required before a person is even given a licence”, Doohan said.
And as much as that will help newly licensed riders, it won’t solve the issue of existing riders who are a large percentage of the fatalities.
Doohan says that inexperienced or returning riders were getting into trouble on high-powered bikes.
“The roads are not a place you can take risks – there are too many obstacles and dangers.”
“The only way you can really test yourself is on a racetrack or going to advanced rider training courses – it’s money well spent.”
QPS Assistant Commissioner Brian Codd says that “the deaths are predominantly males aged between 40 and 50, renewing their love of motorcycles”.
“They’re paying up to $40,000 for bikes, yet not taking the time to spend $100 on learning skills to ride their new big motorcycles.”
Queensland Police have joined with other government agencies to implement a road safety campaign in the area to raise awareness of the potential risks of riding motorcycles on hinterland and rural roads, and the contributing factors that include speed, rider error and inexperience.
While the Gold Coast and the rest of South East Queensland are currently under the microscope, the problem is widespread.
There is plenty of publicly available data and information that shows motorcyclists are over represented in crash statistics right across the country.
In Australia motorcyclists represent around 18% of all fatalities on our roads, yet motorcycles are less than 5% of all registered vehicles.
For every fatality there are many more hospitalisations and serious injuries.
Road safety is a complex issue, and no single action or policy can fix the problem and reduce fatalities and injuries.
Plenty of studies have been done into the effectiveness of licensing systems, ongoing training and rider’s attitudes towards safety and risk taking.
But what is clear is that it has to be a joint effort between government, law enforcement and riders taking responsibility themselves.