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Call to train returned motorcycle riders

2014 Yamaha SR400 returned riders motorcycles

Returned riders who have not ridden for a long time should be identified and face a competency test to retain their motorcycle licence, says Motorcycle Council of NSW chairman Steve Pearce.

In his address today to launch October as Motorcycle Awareness month, Steve outlined the council’s views on improving rider safety and keeping a lid on insurance premiums.

The council’s safety recommendations include:

  • A system to identify returned riders and a competency test to retain their licence;
  • Mandatory training to move from a small to large capacity motorcycle licence;
  • Licence suspension for drivers who use mobile phones while driving;
  • More accurate crash data and specially trained motorcycle investigators; and
  • Increased research on the danger of automated vehicles to riders.

Returned rider training

Steve identifies that riders between the age of 40 and 60 are the greatest accident risk of the motorcycle licence population. (*See the graph at the end of the article.)

“Some of these are what we call returning riders, typically returning from a break in their riding career, he says.

“More must be done to identify this group and insist on targeted training before they start riding again.

Steve Pearce siege highway combined braking ombudsman scrooge poor road repair returned
Steve Pearce

“In 2010, there were over 500,000 motorcycle licence holders in NSW, and 173,000 registered motorcycles. That is a huge gap.

“And there are a whole group of riders like myself who were last tested when they passed their licence test, in my case over 40 years ago.

“Even under the Graduated Licensing Scheme, a rider will never face a competency test again, once his or her P plates are achieved.”

He says the MCCNSW calls on the NSW Government to investigate the detection of dormant motorcycle licence holders through the matching of motorcycle registration and licensing records.

Road Safety Ride

Look for motorcyclists in Motorcycle Awareness Month returned
Ride Safety Ride

NSW Motorcycle Awareness Month gets a kickstart on Sunday (7 October 2018) with a Road Safety Ride from Thornleigh to Kariong via the Old Pacific Highway.

The ride will also raise money for MARI (Motorcycle Accident Rehabilitation Initiative) which supports fallen riders.

The ride starts with breakfast at 8am at Bunnings Thornleigh (corner Pennant Hills Rd and Phyliss Ave) before the ride at 9.30am, ending at The Waterfall Cafe in Kariong.

The Centre for Road Safety will show their Roads We Ride video on the Old Pacific Highway at the Thornleigh Community Centre next door and MCC of NSW will show videos on MotoCAP, the recently launched rating system for motorcycle protective clothing.

*Motorcycle fatalities

Call to train returned motorcycle riders
Green is age 50+, red is 40-49, blue 30-39, black <30.

This graph of the past five years of motorcycle fatalities in Australia shows that riders aged over 50 (green) dominate and are increasing.

However, it may also be growing because these are the fastest growing sector of riders.

Meanwhile, other sectors may be decreasing because of recent licence training or decreasing rider numbers.

  1. Thanks for posting an image of me as an example of ‘old farts’. I thought we were mates!

    1. Not sure about the OZ stats when normalised against the ages of the riding population (ie not just looking a the bare numbers by age), but in an NZ context this type of commentary simply reinforces a commonly held and overly circulated myth that does rider safety in this country – and I expect in Oz too, no service whatsoever.
      It is riders aged 15 – 24 comprise only 2.3% of Class 6 licence holders. However, they represent 18% of DSIs, 30% of new ACC Claims; and 29% of ongoing ACC claims. Younger motorcyclists are over-represented in casualty statistics, yet everyone points the finger at us old farts – that’s you and me, Colin – as being the biggest risk.
      As we get older, we will gradually give up riding, whereas the younger riders will ride more and more, thereby increasing their risk. Put the effort in at the bottom.

  2. Interesting topic this one firstly let me firstly say I own 4 motorcycles a cruiser,sportsbike,adventure bike and a retro Kawasaki and ride about 16000 km a year and I must admit I tend to agree with the refresher course being mandatory for returning riders but I also believe that unless you ride pretty much all year round then your riding skills drop off anyway which is why we tend have more motorcyclist killed or injured in the warmer months.

  3. The insurance premium part…Do they mean ctp? if so it only covers the passenger and anyone you may hit. We have been ripped off for years there is no comparison Occasionally one pillion to cars with multiple passengers. As for middle aged riders [i’m past that]..Some of the worst drivers are middle aged men in 4wd ‘s clearly some are taking those bad habits and attitudes with them over to motorcycles…Dress up in leathers buy a harley and play at macho man..When it all ends in tears go back to golf

  4. What a Stupid Idea, if you are going to do this, you should retrain ALL other road user groups that haven’t ridden or driven for a while. Truck drivers, Bus drivers, Taxi drivers etc etc. For the Instructors, you teach someone to the level of getting their licenses, you teach them all the things the RMS wants to see (Not that it’s correct). When a person gets their licenses, THIS is the time they actually START learning. If you haven’t ridden for a while, it takes a while to get used to it again, then they are all good to go. If anything, give them the opportunity to take up extra tuition if they feel they need it but never force them. I look at the graphs of motorcycle fatalities, why don’t you add to this the graph of people taking up motorcycling and use this data to see how many people are riding and I bet you will find a reduction of fatalities per head. You can’t legislate everything and I don’t believe the MCC of NSW is acting in the best interest of the public in this case.

    1. Yes. Definitely. Based on my own experience.

      I had ridden for 15 years starting in 1969. Not just street riding and touring, but track work and enduro competition. I probably rode 5 km off-road for every 1 km on-road.

      FF 10 years – next to no riding c/- career changes and family – took a VF750 out for a weekend. I was amazed; by the end of the street it was like I’d never been off a bike. Top weekend.

      FF another 10 years. Went out on a Beemer 800ST. O.M.F.G. }:-O
      OK – I could ride around the block and manage traffic, but beyond that I was a novice all over again. Mountain roads where I once flowed like mercury had me really worried. I was gobsmacked that I’d lost so much skill that once was second nature.

      A few years later I returned to full time riding and had to re-teach myself everything that I once taught students. Had a few scares but fortunately that’s all they were.

      Sine then everything has returned to what it once was. Can’t be exactly the same ‘cos of the intervening years, but bike and I feel like “one” again.

      I’m not not going to query stats or argue technical points, or call things ‘stupid’.

      Just watch the news and see how many old farts on cruisers get themselves killed in simple circumstances.

      I’ll bet they were just like me: no idea of how much skill they had lost; thought they could pick up where they had left off all those years ago. I was lucky to have made a comeback.

      John C.

  5. Did I miss the information? What proportion of the over 50 fatalities were returned riders? How about non-fatal crashes, which I think are 6 times higher?

    Prof Haworth looked at this issue or claim about returned riders while she was at MUARC, Monash Uni Accident Research Centre,
    and concluded it was not a major factor.

  6. I feel ALL license holders should undergo a competency test each time they renew their license. Especially car drivers. There are a lot out there who just found their license in a Weeties packet. They are in charge of a lethal weapon and should keep their skills up to some standard. Especially which pedal is the accelerator and which is the brake, also the non use of phones.

    1. Couldn’t agree more Ken.
      All drivers/riders should have a competency test every 5 years (IMHO) to ensure those on our roads are up to date with current rules and can drive/ride in a responsible manner. Licenses are a privilege not a right!!!

      1. Sorry Dude , youve swallowed the condescending feudalistic attitude population control.
        We pay for the roads and they are built on land sequested from available land for that use .
        Governments need be here for our benefit and do what the electing public want.
        Road use is a right no matter how much the police want to intimidate you/us by claiming otherwise

  7. The graph does not present meaningful data. 40-49 and 30-39 are groups covering 10 years. What does 50+ mean? There would be more riders aged 50-99 than 40-49, so of course there are more accidents. I rode from 18-30, then 55+, so I could potentially contribute only to the groups at each end but not the middle. The only meaningful comparison would accidents per kilometre per rider at any specific age.

  8. What is meant by retraining? Doing the same training & testing that a new learner does?
    How would you identify those in need? A lot of us had gaps without owning/riding bikes, usually due to parenthood, some like myself were able to keep the drug in the vein by getting the kids onto dirt bikes at an early age and riding with them. I am all for training if it achieves the right outcome somehow I don’t think anything our Government departments are going to implement would benefit anyone

  9. The Mcc wonder why they can’t get members. I wish they would look after our rights and let us look after our safety.

    1. Yep – i have just sent them (MCC) email about their uninformed article about CTP. I suggest MCC change their name to AMCC ( Anti Motor Cycles Council) as they dont seem to be supporting riders. I wouldnt be surprised if Steve Roach actually doesnt ride just frives around in some SUV 🙂

  10. Be careful what you wish for the industry is struggling at the moment and as an old fart that has returned to riding after a long break ive spent $60000 + on bikes and gear over the last couple of years, when i first got back into riding i rode accordingly fully aware of my abilities and limitations, ive never had a speeding fine on a bike or in a car (but i admit i have been lucky) nor have i ever come off on a public road, if i had to retrain to start riding again it wouldn’t have happened id have spent my money elsewhere, as it is i now ride most days and love it i cant work out why i ever stopped

  11. Some US politician said this ” for every complex problem there is always someone whom has a simple solution which DOES NOT WORK” and the article fits that comment.
    Testing older riders for competency is age discrimination at least and does not recognize their experience . Every one whom has not ridden for a while will be a little rusty, but experienced riders will all ready know the caveats of motorcycling and one expects act accordingly.
    However if one is going to “examine” the competency of all road users we could be like pilots and have to fill out log books of every time we use the road , and maintain a “recency” component ie. have to do so many hours every month. People might think flying a plane is more difficult than driving on the road , as having a pilots license I say no, there are just a different array of things which must be checked , and it is safer too since there are no damn fool wire ropes up there.
    Log books are a bit over the top for all road users but so is this thought bubble of competency.

    1. Yes, but. To be a pilot, you HAD to do a significant amount of training at each and every step of the process to whatever level of licence you ultimately obtained. You were required to learn the ‘right’ way to do things, from the beginning, and to improve as well as learn additional skills to progress..
      The problem with us ‘oldies’ (I got my licence back in the 70’s) is that we didn’t HAVE to learn ANYTHING to get a licence back then (as someone else said, do a wobbly U-turn in the entire width of a two-lane road out the front of the motor registry to get a licence … just do an eye test to get a ‘licence’ to ride, but with ‘L’-plates attached). And we have had to do or learn NOTHING since then. So we tend to have appallingly bad habits, and lots of them. Then we take a decade or two off from riding, and think we can just ‘jump back on’.
      So we get on a brand new bike (because we are more likely to be able to afford them), with performance that only the top race bikes had back when we last rode. Yet we don’t see that as a recipe for disaster?
      Yes, there are LOTS of other motorists that are ‘less than good’ (being very polite here). But we need to stop thinking that that is an excuse for us to not look at ourselves. Motorcycling is a risk management exercise, and we contribute to some of the risks, just as other motorists do.

  12. The following letter is in its entirety my opinion as the author.
    I ride a Kawasaki GTR1400
    I have ridden for 37years, in the early days as much as 80.000ks a year. having Aspersers all I wanted to do was ride. I have seen so many weird things happen over that time and heard a lot of conversations but the one constant is car drivers lack of care. does anyone stop to think how many single bike crashes were caused by being run of the road, you know lazy cars on the wrong side of the road on a bend. You do your best to avoid the end of life situation but the car just drives off into the distance without a thought as to where you just went. the amount of cars that just simply pull out in front of you. You can only train and prepare so much for it. Police turn up at these incidences and book people for a range of traffic violations but how many are charged with causing death? the death of a rider is treated so casually that cars don’t care if they side swipe a bike, pull out in front of a bike, tail gate your bike, lane share with a bike when you just can’t. I firmly believe if road users were charged with negligent driving, negligent driving causing death which already exists the roads would very quickly become a safe place for all. This won’t happen because too many people with the influence to see this done won’t want there their families and friends to be on the receiving end of a charge which would mean gaol time. It’s better to blame the bike for being there in the first place or speeding. It’s my opinion that this gentleman is the kind of person that would say and act detrimentally to any group he was part of if it got a smile and nod from his betters. These suggestions are a nuance, not everyone can afford the time and money just so the government can be seen to be doing something proactive. Remember there are good and bad road users in all categories its’ the overall behavior that is the problem.
    . I brought a hivis vest for riding I wanted to be seen. I rode 5 blocks had 3 cars pull out in from of me so I pulled over took it off and haven’t worn it since.
    .There are 2 roundabouts at the approaches to my child’s school (school zone) these can’t be avoided and are literally the scariest parts of the road I use daily. I’m forced to give way to the left at these roundabouts. I have see motorcycle police stop mid roundabout because of the behavior of car drivers. I remember when you rode toward a roundabout people on the left stopped and waited now they pull out on you as you are passing them still on the roundabout.
    Stop bike bashing there will always be good and better riders and accidents are always going to happen, look at the mind set of road users as a whole. You just simply can’t train for ignorant, selfish and abusive road users.

    1. Just one small point … there is no such thing as “Give Way to the Right” in the Australian Road Rules. Never has been. There was way back in things like the NSW Motor Traffic Act, but we have not been bound by that for a couple of decades.
      As to the rules pertaining to roundabouts “Give Way to vehicles already in the Roundabout”. It does not matter what ‘side’ they have come from, if they are already in the roundabout when you are about to enter, you must give way to them.
      Oh, and my personal pet peeve … there is no such thing as a “Right of Way” in the Australian Road Rules. So people should stop saying that they have Right of Way in such and such situation, and charging out in front of other motorists. Roads are a piece of shared public infrastructure … so lets try sharing them.

  13. If you could sit on a good corner and watch riders going around it, could you give feed back based on what you know or do yourself.
    You are only as good as your experiences you have had or seen from the people you ride with.
    The more you know the better it gets.

    Go and try a training day with a good school and give your bike the rider it deserves.

    Cheers Chopper

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