Riders are now being discriminated against by at least one Sunshine Coast service station with signs demanding they pre-pay for fuel.
The practice of pre-paying for fuel is usually designed to stop fuel driver-offs and is widespread in the USA.
In Australia, we are aware that only Costco requires pre-payment for fuel, but it is a requirement of all motorists.
This sign at the Ampol Nambour, on Bli Bli Road, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, is the only one we are aware of that discriminates against riders.
Riders are already vilified by the media and generally in society without signs like this implying that riders are criminals.
Procon Developments who built the site for Fresh Trading Co claim the sign is not a result of fuel theft but “the dangerous actions of fuel thefts”.
This follows an incident at one of their West Australian sites where a pedestrian was “almost mowed down by a rider who was exiting after stealing fuel”.
Motorcycle Riders Association Australia Regional Spokesperson Cate Grace claims the sign is a discriminatory practice targeting legitimate road users.
“Motorcycle riders are also car and truck drivers and can/will take their custom elsewhere, while advising as many of their family, friends and colleagues to do likewise,” she warns Procon.
She also warns that riders may raise a class action under the Australian discrimination laws.
Procon spokesman Leon Key, who claims to be a long-time rider, replied to Cate saying that fuel drive-offs are dangerous and present a public liability issue for the servos.
“The (WA) incident was subsequently investigated by police following the complaint lodged by the pedestrian and as we could not assist with details of any kind we ended up being cautioned about our position for public liability on private property.”
Cate suggests appropriately located security cameras to capture the number plate on the rear of motorcycles would have aided police investigations.
Incidences of fuel theft can be reported to local police by servo operators or the public at Policelink on 131 444, or online by clicking here.
Queensland Police have also launched a fuel drive-off SMS (text) email initiative.
If a vehicle has left a service station without paying for fuel, a text or email will be sent to the vehicle’s registered owner advising them to contact the service station.
Cate says that if fuel drive-offs are a problem, they should make it a requirement for all road users to pre-pay, not just riders.
“The broader implication of this discriminatory action inferring motorcycle riders can’t be trusted, further cements a lack of respect for, or regard for their safety, encouraging drivers to make even less effort to look out for, and safely share our roads with motorcycle riders,” she says.
“Commuter motorcycle and scooter riders contribute greatly to the reduction in urban road and parking congestion, and recreationally contribute millions of dollars annually to regional/rural economies.
“They also contribute in a voluntary capacity in many community roles, and donate substantial amounts to charities annually. Of course they are also taxpayers, ratepayers and voters.”
We have asked police for figures on fuel drive-offs and will update when they are available.
I don’t know if it’s rampant, but when our car was stolen last year the thieves used it twice in fuel drive-offs within a week.
If it is an issue, surely riders who don’t pay for fuel would be easier to catch than other motorists.
All the servo has to do is require them to remove their helmets before switching on the fuel pump as many already do.
If the rider starts putting their helmet back on before paying, the servo attendant would surely have time to stop them!
Many service stations now have credit card facilities at the pump so you can fuel up and pay without even having to remove your helmet. Problem solved!