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Austroads considers draconian bike laws

Learner rider - Calum demonstrates slow riding techniques safety contract business learn

All novice riders will first have to hold a car licence for one year under a plan being considered by Austroads. Austroads report

The draconian pre-requisite is already in place in Queensland and is included in an open-ended discussion paper written by Dr Ron Christie who died before he could complete it.

The Austroads paper also endorses the Victorian law requiring novice riders wear hi-vis clothing.


While it is only a discussion paper and we need not get too excited about it, we also need to counter it with some sense.

Other suggestions in the Austroads paper include:

  • mandatory lights-on and hi-vest protective clothing for novice riders at learner or intermediate levels;
  • graduated licences for learners, intermediate (provisional/restricted) and full/open licences;
  • no concessions for older licence applicants;Learner rider Mitch Hamrey tackles the HART slalom course austroads
  • removing fast-track concessions for completing rider training and supervision programs;
  • extending the motorcycle learner permit period to six months;
  • replacing 50cc scooter licences for holders of car licences with skill testing requirements;
  • removing speed differentials that require novice riders to travel at speeds lower than the posted speed limits in higher speed zones; and
  • imposing Restricted (R) plates for full/open licence holders subject to restricted riding conditions.

As yet, it’s only a discussion paper with no weight behind it. You can read the full Austroads paper online.

Australian Motorcycle Council secretary and Victorian Motorcycle Advisory Group member Tony Ellis says the paper is not designed to produce safer riders. “It seems designed to produce fewer riders by making the process as pointlessly difficult and inconvenient as possible.”

However, not all suggestions in the Austroads paper are punitive and obstructive. For example, some riders may applaud the crackdown on moped riders taking to the streets on car licences without any instruction or testing to ride scooters.

And the paper is not without some logical decisions that avoid knee-jerk political decisions. For example, the Austroads paper concludes that there is little evidence to suggest that the periodic re-testing of motorcycle licence holders would reduce crash or injury risk.

Yet it does say it may be worth monitoring the draconian laws in New South Wales and South Australian where there are lower tolerance levels for speeding offences by novice driver/rider. It says these have the potential for application across Australia.

  1. I obtained my motorcycle licence before my car licence and I am sure that there are a lot of riders the same!

    Personally I would like to see the loop hole for car licence holders to ride a car engined trike closed and a Trike only licence made available & more accessible regardless of engine power!

  2. Instead of bike riders having to hold car licence for twelve months, do that in reverse, car drivers must do twelve months on motorbike before they get licence, might mean a lot less cars on the road ionce they find out how much fun it is, and how you must watch all traffic at all times

    1. I wholeheartedly agree and was about to post the same. It might just make safer drivers, much safer.

    2. Agreed. A year on two wheels before a car licence. That makes more sense than doing it the other way. Give them some incentive by lowering the motorcycle permit / licence to be a year lower than a car.

      However, will it make any difference? Cars still run into bigger objects such as trucks and buses so I think you need to educate some drivers to LOOK first. Now that is a novel idea. Wish it would catch on.

  3. There are a heap of people out there getting their first taste of motorcycling on a 50cc scooter.
    Who probably would not bother if they had to go through all the crap to get a bike licence
    That said they once they have had the experience they will possibly want larger machines.
    I started on a scooter as a student over forty years ago, and there are probably many like ,me.
    The motorcycle industry should be fighting this tooth and nail, plus other anti bike legislation
    and not just leaving it to motorcyclist lobby groups, it is not just our lifestyle it is their livelihood
    The one single thing no one mentions is horsepower,Who needs more than 100hp, ?
    Where exactly can you use that outside of a race track? the answer is unfortunatly just about
    anywhere. Idiots have been trying to explore the upper performance levels of 300kph motorcycles
    They smear themselves down the road leaving us with the aftermath of hi vis vests, more, training etc
    and just more and more repressive legislation.
    High horsepower figures sell motorcycles no doubt .But it is probably time manufacturers were looking
    to the long term of motorcycling rather than short term gain and putting their own limits on
    If this was the car industry and they where churning out 200hp corrollas the road toll would go through
    the roof and the government would ban them.

    1. They already do manufacture high horsepower affordable cars. WRX, XR5 Turbo, V8 Commodore, XR6 Turbo, etc etc.
      I for one love big bore high horsepower bikes, (having owned 4 Busa’s and 4 GSX1100R’S) The easy solution is to go to the drags or a quiet country back road blast.
      And another secret is to treat every car driver as though they have a loaded gun and they are wanting to kill you..
      Never assume that they have seen you, never!
      And when your number is up then your number is up, regardless.

  4. Removing speed differentials that require novice riders to travel at speeds lower than the posted speed limits in higher speed zones is an absolutely required change for the better and safety for all road users.

    There are real problems with having slower moving traffic, cars and bikes, on freeways controlled by novice drivers and riders that are pounced on by faster moving traffic. No doubt the novices are frustrated just as much as the other road users.

    How can they learn correctly from the start when they are hobbled?

  5. I’ve been sitting at home for 18 months recovering from a women turning across my path I was doing about 40kph and she turned across 2 lanes of traffic and collected me in a bus lane. I had my headlight on and no amount of protective would have protected me. Guess what, she said she didn’t see me. I am 61 and ridden all my life. This is my first major collision. The problem is people don’t look and present penalties are not a deterrent..

    1. Good luck with your recovery, While concentrating on speeding, alcohol etc the authorities seem
      to ignore the fact that some people should just not be driving, I bet you’ve been laid up longer than she lost
      her license for. Then there is the one in SA who has had her license torn up after killing 2 people in different accidents at the same intersection, and is appealing to get it returned. I really can’t understand how she
      got it back after the first death
      Deterrence might not work but they can at least stop them repeating.
      I am glad you did not use the word “accident”in your post because it is not.It is criminal bloody negligence

  6. Gary, you were one of the lucky ones. My husband was overtaking a car on an open, unmarked, stretch of road when, with only a single flash of her indicator and no use of brakes, she turned right, onto a dirt track leading to a hole in the fence, into his pathway and killing him instantly! I know this because I was on my bike behind him and saw it all happen. Unfortunately, the police, who took a further two hours to arrive on site, had already decided that it was going to be my husband’s fault – a story they had already released to local media before they had even arrived. They then set about only gathering evidence to support this decision, ignoring and discrediting me as the only witness, claiming he was speeding (yet admitting they had no proof) . To this day (14 months later) the driver has not received even so much as a traffic fine, and is unlikely to ever be charged with manslaughter or negligent driving, despite her multiple admissions of not looking before turning (despite having just been overtaken by two other motorcycles) I have read this Austroads paper carefully, and all it does is re-hash old discussions and continue to feed into the current hysteria surrounding motorcyclists being lawless hoons and inherent risk takers who all speed. This was the attitude the police have held towards my husband and myself, practically apologising to his killer because this ‘hoon motorcyclist’ got in her way. I can only hope that by telling my story I can bring together others who have been subjected to police prejudice in this way and pressure can be put on politicians to not only look at the way people learn to drive cars in this country, but also the practices of those we employ to ‘serve and protect’ our community.

    1. Sorry to hear of your loss Judith. it is tragic when someone close to you is taken from you like that. I have experienced a similar loss of a friend and mentor to me, who was traveling along an 80kmh stretch or road through a remote village, when a vehicle drove straight out in front of him through a give way sign and he had no chance and was killed, with absolutely no reason for the driver to not have seen him, there was no obstructions, he was traveling within the limit on a clear sunny day and had his light on. 2 years on and justice still has not been served, however that’s more to do with our court system than our police.

      How to stop these things from happening? well I’m at a loss, but it seems to me that the school of thought is that its easier to pin the blame and responsibility on a minority, in this case, motorcyclists, then it is to look at the broader picture which is ALL motorists need to take more responsibility. As well as ensuring motorcyclists are skilled & educated, cars & trucks need to be better educated about the need to be aware of motorcyclists and the risks and dangers that larger vehicles pose to motorcycles. Whilst we are seen as a minority by the powers to be, the majority will treat us like a minority and treat us with disregard.



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