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Crashes prompt road craft courses

Riders enjoying the roads over Mt Tamborine Operation smart course
Riders enjoying the roads over Mt Tamborine

A high incidence of motorcycle crashes in the Gold Coast and Tweed Coast areas have prompted the establishment of two road craft courses.

While motorcyclists represent about 22% of road fatalities in Australia despite being less than 5% of registered road users, they represent almost half of the road toll in the combined tourist region.

The crash statistics have prompted the Tweed Shire Council to present its first motorcycle safety workshop and the start of a new motorcycle road craft course on the Gold Coast from this Saturday (March 4, 2017).

Gold Coast SMART course

The Gold Coast SMART Rider Program has the same name and some of the same operators as a previous course funded by the Gold Coast City Council. This time it is funded by the Queensland Government Community Road Safety Grants Program.

The previous Safe Motorcycle Advanced Rider Training courses were cancelled in 2012 despite winning the inaugural 2011 Australian Road Safety Awards.

Councillors claimed at the time that the course was mainly attended by non-ratepayers, so they pulled the plug. It was a myopic view considering the area attracts motorcycle tourism and any crashes are a burden on their infrastructure.

Before the original course began in 2008, the region’s motorcycle rider toll was 25. It fell to just four by the time the course was axed in 2012. It has since risen again.

SMART Rider Program creator Steve McDowall of Motorcycle Life points out that for every fatality there are also 15 hospitalisations, 10 medical treatments and five minor injuries reported.

SMART road craft course instructors Steve McDowall and Mike Roberts
SMART road craft course instructors Steve McDowall and Mike Roberts

“That trend is worrying,” the accredited rider trainer says.

“Part of the reason is that the roads around the area, and in particular the hinterland, are very attractive to motorcyclists, but they are catching riders out and crashes are occurring far too often. 

“And unfortunately, many of those involved in crashes are older riders or those returning to riding after a long break.”

Tweed road craft workshop

The new course comes as the Tweed Council just over the border in NSW recently conducted its first motorcycle safety workshop with plans to host more.

Road Safety Officer Alana Brooks says they had more than 80 attend their first workshop on February 19 in Chillingham.

Motorcycles outside the Chillingham Public Hall for the safety workshop - Smart road craft course
Motorcycles outside the Chillingham Public Hall for the safety workshop

The workshop, run by Survive the Ride Association of NSW volunteers who rode up from Sydney, included subjects such as road craft and riding techniques; safe following distances; tips for riding in groups; safe speeds; and riding gear. 

Alana says the road craft workshop was free to riders and was funded through the Local Government Road Safety Program which has run similar workshops in Coffs Harbour.

“Given the overwhelming response and interest the workshop received from riders and the media, we would certainly look at holding other similar workshops, perhaps during Motorcycle Awareness Week in October this year,” she says.

Survival strategies

The new SMART Rider Program is a full-day road craft course designed to help riders identify risks and give them strategies to avoid them.

It was developed jointly by the Australian Road Safety Foundation and Motorcycle Life with State Government funding and Gold Coast City Council support.

Course fees have been kept to an affordable $95. 

Win for riders on Mt Tamborine roadworks - road craft course
Mt Tamborine is a scene of many motorcycle crashes

“There have been plenty of calls in the media and from rider groups for the re-instatement of an on-road training course like this, and the initial uptake from riders has been very good,” he says. 

The SMART Rider Program will be delivered by a team of experienced instructors who have worked on similar road craft courses, including the original SMART course.  

We attended two of the original SMART courses and learnt something each time. The courses featured a clever mix of theory and practical road craft techniques on popular local motorcycle routes.

The new SMART Rider Program courses will run on the Gold Coast from March 4 to June at the Nerang Bicentennial Centre, 833 Southport-Nerang Rd, Nerang, next to the City of Gold Coast Administration Centre.

The full day training course involves theory sessions, demonstrations, facilitated discussions, and a mentored road ride.

Steve says there is already interest in running the program in other regions.

For course information, dates and bookings, click here.