The Queensland Government has announced sweeping changes to the state’s motorcycle licensing laws.
The reforms will be rolled out from October 2016 and include:
- An off-road practical pre-learner training and assessment course (increasing the required number of courses to obtain an R licence from two to three),
- A minimum learner licence period of three months for all learner riders,
- The extension of the minimum RE (restricted) licence period to two years,
- Removing the restriction prohibiting R licence holders from carrying a passenger for the first year; and
- A stronger emphasis on riding behaviour and higher order skills in Q-Ride courses, and greater standardisation in the course curriculum.
Anyone holding an RE class provisional, probationary or open licence before October 2016 will fall under the current rules and will only be required to hold their RE class licence for 1 year before being able to progress to an R class licence.
In announcing the changes, Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said “Motorcycle riders and passengers continue to be over-represented in the road toll.”
“The figures are unacceptable and highlight the need for us to review and reform the motorcycle licensing system in Queensland.”
The Government examined crash data, reviewed road safety research and looked at practices in other States and jurisdictions before coming to its decision on the changes.
The review also involved a public consultation process last year and took into consideration feedback from the community and industry.
The topics of road safety and rider training are always controversial, and the problems around these areas are complex.
The changes to the licensing process have already come under heavy criticism from some riders and members of the media.
Among the criticisms, they correctly point out that a large percentage of fatalities and serious injuries do not involve novice riders, but those riders returning to motorcycling after a long break, and feel that new riders should not be subjected to tougher laws.
The changes will, however, help to equip our next generation of riders with better skills and experience for the future – long term solution!
We must realise that while the changes to the licensing legislation do not address the needs of returning riders, they can’t.
These riders already hold a licence and fall outside the licensing process, and need a different approach to improving their skills.
Many have never done any form of rider training at all because they were licensed before mandatory training was introduced at various stages throughout Australia.
Queensland Government’s motorcycle safety fact sheet (available here) states that “there are 3.5 times the number of people who hold a motorcycle licence compared to the number of registered motorcycles”.
Short of cancelling licences for those riders who hold a licence but do not own a motorcycle (political nightmare and very unfair!) there is no way of enforcing training upon them.
There are options for these riders though.
They can participate in refresher training offered by many licensing schools, or appropriate post-licence training that develops observation and anticipation skills that help riders to avoid crashes.
Some critics dispute the effectiveness of post-licence training yet offer no alternative, however experiential evidence from within the rider training industry shows there are significant benefits to be gained.
A good rider will have developed heightened observation skills and be able to anticipate potential problems before they become an issue, allowing time to respond in a calm and controlled manner.
A poor rider is likely to find themselves in trouble and then blame outside sources for the problem.
Road safety advisors and governments base their decisions on evidence-based research, and in this instance, the evidence is compelling.
There is plenty of evidence available in the Australian Road Deaths Database, in studies such as the MAIDS Report and other quality research papers that suggests that riders need better on road skills.
(WARNING – OPINION AHEAD)
Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but ….
Illogical rants from opinionated and poorly informed people who have no professional experience in road safety work or rider training will do the riding community more damage than good.
I would question whether the critics have even looked at available data, thought through the process or can offer any alternate suggestions.
(END OF RANT)