Young riders face more restrictions as a new paper suggests raising the motorcycle licence age to 18 as well as high-vis clothing and a night curfew for novices.
The South Australian Government is considering the proposals from the University of Adelaide’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) which is based on a 2014 Austroads paper.
Queensland has effectively raised its age limit to 18 by requiring learner riders to hold a car licence for a year and Victoria has a hi-vis use for novices. Neither has resulted in a lower motorcycle toll.
Tim Kelly of South Australian motorcycle representative group Ride to Review who is also on the government’s Motorcycle Reference Group (MRG), says they were handed the proposal after it was leaked to the media.
He says RTR is preparing a response which will be available next week, but it rejects some of the proposals that are not based in research.
Whether the government takes any notice of the group’s response is debatable since the MRG (comprising government officials, police, bike organisations, doctors, road safety campaigners and industry bodies) was given the proposal after it handed to the media.
The proposals may only be in South Australia, but may embolden other states to follow suit.
The uptake of motorcycles in Australia is already waning and such Draconian measures would only further imperil an industry that the FCAI estimates has an annual turnover of $1.8 billion.
Increasing the learner age in South Australia from 16 to 18 is counterintuitive if it forces would-be riders to get a car licence first.
In Italy, you can get a moped licence at the age of 14. The idea is to instil a sense of safety, road craft and understanding of vulnerability before unleashing a youth on a one-tonne car.
RTR member, safety campaigner and motorcycle crash widow Judith Kuerschner says the age limit is “anti-employment” especially for rural and regional youths.
As for the alleged benefits of hi-vis are disputed in several studies.
In fact, University of Melbourne’s Chair of Statistics, Prof Richard Huggins, says he has reviewed several studies on motorcycle conspicuity and “look but fail to see” (SMIDSY – Sorry, Mate I Didn’t See You) accidents.
Richard says there is “sufficient doubt” of the effectiveness of hi-vis to call for a repeal of the Victorian mandatory requirement.
Judith says any recommendation of mandatory safety clothing is “fraught with danger and potentially expense as there are no recognised safety standards for clothing in this country”.
“Making it mandatory for learners is only a short step to making it mandatory for everyone,” she warns.
Other licensing changes
Other more sensible proposed changes for learners include a night curfew, no towing, no phone use, auto licence if tested on one, learner permit for six months and wear L plates.
Currently SA novice riders graduate to a full licence by 20, but under the new proposal they would not become fully licensed until 21 years and six months.
The public consultation period continues for another week.