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Slug riders over regional crashes: Austroads

Resurfacing Roadworks midweek warriors regional

Regional speed limits should be reduced up to 30km/h and riders slugged with a levy to fix rural roads, according to a new Austroads report.

The worrying proposals are included in the Guide to Road Safety Part 5: Road Safety for Rural and Remote Areas.

It points out that motorcyclist deaths have remained stable in major cities over the past decade, but increased in regional and remote Australia by up to almost 50% in recent years.

The report suggests “safety improvements on popular motorcycle routes” potentially funded by a levy on compulsory third-party injury insurance for riders as well as speed limits aligned with “road attributes”.Austroads regional road safety report

Poor-quality regional roads

Since regional roads are in such a poor state, that means speed limits would come down if Austroads had its way. (Austroads is the prime research authority advising Australian and New Zealand governments and transport authorities.)

The Austroads’ report suggests speeds be set to “minimise the effect of a crash given the current road infrastructure”.

It notes that the ability of riders to survive a crash “decreases rapidly” above 30km/h and says speed limits should be set “within these tolerance limits”.

The report points out that speeds limits in Sweden and the Netherlands are based on “harm minimisation principles in contrast to those set in Australia”.

Road type Australia Sweden Netherlands
Local streets 50km/h or more 30km/h 30km/h
Other streets 60km/h or more 50km/h 50km/h
Undivided road (low quality) 100km/h 70km/h 80km/h
Undivided roads (good quality) 100-110km/h 90km/h 100km/h
Motorways/divided roads 100-110km/h 110km/h 120km/h

It follows a similar suggestion at a Victorian Road Trauma Summit to reduce speed limits on unsealed country roads from 100km/h to 80km/h.

This has been a hobby horse of Victorian Assistant Police Commissioner Doug Fryer for several years as this 2017 video shows.

Rider numbers increase

The report does acknowledge that the increase in regional motorcyclist fatalities is largely due to the increase in the riding popularity.

Rider registrations are up 5% a year while estimated kilometres travelled is up 4% a year.

It also notes that motorcyclist fatality rates per registered vehicle and per kilometre travelled actually decreased by 0.9% from 2008-10 to 2016.

However, the report points out a shift from urban deaths to regional deaths over the same period:

  • Regional motorcycle fatalities increased 15.4% and remote deaths were up a whopping 49.3%;
  • 59% of motorcyclist fatalities occurred in regional and remote Australia during the four-year period 2012-2015, an increase of 53% over the previous four years;
  • Most regional motorcycle crashes were riders running off the road and hitting a tree, barrier, sign or other roadside hazard;
  • The typical motorcycle fatality or hospitalisation in regional and remote areas is a male motorcyclist who is riding recreationally during daylight hours on the weekend and is involved in a single-vehicle crash; and
  • Motorcycles are over-represented in crashes with animals with more than 80% involving kangaroos, but it also noted an underreporting of animal-related crashes.

Speed management

The report admits a lack of data on motorcycle crashes.

Yet it says speed limits in regional and remote areas are “high and do not necessarily reflect the risks of travelling on a given road (eg unsealed surface), or the existing infrastructure (eg unprotected trees close to the road)”.

Speed management is necessary in the absence of adequate infrastructure,” it says.

“The primary means for speed compliance is via enforcement, which is inherently difficult in regional and remote areas due to expansive road networks and a lack of resources.”

It suggests “vehicle-based speed management technologies” which could include speed limiters.

“Any gains in speed management are beneficial,” it concludes.Lower speed limits on rural intersections regional

Safety ‘initiatives’

Austroads reports that “initiatives” to improve motorcyclist safety have included:

Safety suggestions

Apart from a reduction in regional speed limits, the report calls for a number of other moves, particularly targeting riders:

  • National mass media campaigns targeting motorcyclists;
  • riders encouraged to ride bikes with ABS and emerging autonomous emergency braking (AEB) technology that detects imminent forward collisions and reacts by automatically applying the brakes without rider intervention;
  • motorcycle blackspot/black programs for regional areas;
  • use more flexible roadside barriers and signs;
  • install more under-rails on existing barriers;
  • audit regional road hazards for motorcycle-specific hazards, particularly by motorcycles such as Queensland’s award-winning instrumented bike; 
    Brett Hoskin with TMR audit bike
    Queensland’s road audit bike
  • improve regional emergency services crash response times (click here for more details); and
  • examine more graduated restrictions for novice riders including a minimum period with a car licence before motorcycle licensing as in Queensland and “licensing options” for returning riders.

The report states that AEB technology reduces low-speed rear-end crashes for passenger vehicles, but notes that it is not yet available for motorcycles.

“Once AEB technology has been improved and is readily available in Australia, its benefits should be promoted to motorcyclists in regional and remote areas who are looking to purchase a new motorcycle,” it states.

  1. Why do beauracrats seem tof think it’s ok to sit behind their desks in the city and make these decisions, it seems purely from figureq and statistics. About time they get out and experience what it’s like riding out on the roads.
    50 years of riding experience and no road riding related injuries has taught me and allows me to make an informed decision as to riding in all conditions and road surfaces.
    These do gooders should just go away and get themselves a productive job and bring money in to the system instead of bleeding it.
    As for rider aids and’safety’ controls, go and learn to ride properly.
    Rant completed for now.

  2. If these idiots get their way the number of people dying will skyrocket! They will all die of boredom, heat exhaustion and falling unconscious.
    A big problem with regional roads is that they’re not racetracks with safe runoff’s and advisory signs that are meant for high speed vehicles not model T Fords with bald tyres and they have animals and morons who drive like a shopping trolley .
    People are going to die be it in their beds or on the road it’s going to happen unfortunately statistics rarely state this fact so the nannies get worried when some people choose to do it on the road. To see if a road is truly dangerous those people who were drunk suicidal or suffered a medical problem should be excluded from the statistics.
    And one more thing ,
    Anyone who thinks automated braking on a bike is a good idea should be hit over the head with a rotten fish until they grow some brains.

  3. We already pay a “safety levy” on bike rego that doesn’t seem to be used to improve biker safety (flexible roadside barriers don’t make me feel any safer) Now because of “inadequate infrastructure” (read: poor road maintenance) we’re told we need to slow down?
    I get the feeling the people behind these ideas don’t understand the concept of riding for pleasure or the satisfaction of riding without unecessary limitations on a good section of road.

  4. I’ll wager that there is not one motorcyclist working at Aus Toads. And that they are just another waste of tax dollars, who take more frequent smoko breaks than anyone in The Private Sector.

    As for Doug Fryer, does he ride motorcycles, or is he a f#cking cyclist?

    1. AustRoads use Consultants.
      No readily available evidence they ride motorcycles.

      National view on regional and remote road safety

      Consultants: Centre for Automotive Safety Research – University of Adelaide

      Author: Dr Lisa Wundersitz, a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide where she has worked since 1996: Child and young driver road safety; Driver impairment; Development and evaluation of road safety campaigns/programs.

      She is 2IC to: Dr Matthew Baldock, Deputy Director the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide, who has worked in the field of road safety research for 20 years: Older road users; Motorcycling; Alcohol and drug impaired driving.

      Doug Fryer is no longer with VicPol, however, prior to him leaving, he was Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner, Road Policing Command; the States top traffic cop, and is a rider.

      Also, Acting Assistant Crime Commissioner – Taskforce Astraea – investigation and prosecution of child sex offenders.

      And Detective Superintendent – who oversaw Echo Taskforce – investigating “outlaw bikie gangs” and in charge of Taskforce Driver, investigating the murder of underworld figure Carl Williams.

  5. Find this hard to understand..most secondary roads i have been on in QLD
    have been quite good In fact one hell of a lot better than nsw or victoria
    thanks in no small part i gather to the late joe bejelke who spent big in the country.
    I only really have experience of NSW where the spend bugger all outside sydney .
    I think the problem is political…no votes in country areas

  6. It’s all about the faceless ones taking control over our lives. Never stops. Perhaps if they banned motorcycles we could cut the accident/death rate to zero? Just trying to justify their existence.

    Get government out of our lives.


  7. The Austroads researchers get paid big money to come up with reasons to support the ideas of the people paying them, the ‘fun killers’ in the government! ….Ironically we as tax payers provide the $ to pay for this shite!

    It notes that the ability of riders to survive a crash “decreases rapidly” above 30km/h and says speed limits should be set “within these tolerance limits” ]
    …..if we stop moving or doing anything at all, we die anyway!
    Increasing the speed limits everywhere by 30kp/h will prevent boredom & keep all drivers concentration levels up, with the addition of more fun!

    [The Austroads’ report suggests speeds be set to “minimise the effect of a crash given the current road infrastructure”.]
    … I agree with this, get rid of ALL the metal signage & stop wire roping/guard rails/concrete road narrowing barriers to enable areas where all riders & drivers may be able to avoid major injury or damage after some one makes an error of judgement!

    Too much money on offer to these road safety bods to come up with stupid ideas:
    How about we ban ALL vehicles (yes everything) & turn the current Australian roadways into walking & cycle paths, then ban cycling because it’s dangerous for the pedestrians!!

  8. Perhaps the people that damage the roads could pay to fix the roads…eg Trucks and big cars. Bikes do little to NO damage.

  9. I’m all for improving rider safety but how about we do it in sensible ways.
    Improve learner training by putting more into the course than simply the very basics of riding. Half of the two day course was spent in a room listening to grisly tales and how we should be riding instead of putting it into practice. Four years on and I can barely recall anything I was taught in the classroom during my L’s course but the riding portion is still fresh in my brain. I had to watch instructional videos from professional riders to fill the gaps.
    Better incentives for riders to attend advanced rider training. Maybe some minor perks for motorcycle/gear manufacturers to support the training courses with prizes or discount vouchers. Hell, even if they only shaved 6 months off P2 for attending one or two approved advanced courses they would be extremely popular.
    Safer crash barriers for both drivers and riders.
    More training for drivers. There are so many people with bad driving habits it’s a miracle there isn’t more carnage on the roads.

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