Unlicensed riders represent a growing concern for the motorcycle community as licensing has become tougher and more expensive in most states in the past decade.
While most riders would agree that tougher licensing and more training is vital, there have been some unexpected and adverse consequences for all riders.
In the same decade that licensing has become tougher, the proportion of unlicensed riders has almost doubled, according to a Monash University Accident Research Centre report.
It seems many riders simply find it too time-consuming and expensive to obtain a motorcycle licence. Instead, they take the risk of riding without a licence and therefore uninsured.
And because they haven’t received proper training, they are crashing!
MUARC doesn’t provide actual numbers, but unlicensed riders probably represent a small proportion of the overall motorcycling population.
However, their existence unfavourably skews the crash statistics.
Unfortunately, governments grab these crash stats and use them to impose tougher restrictions on all riders.
MUARC says 7% of all motorcycle crashes involve riders without a valid motorcycle licence.
Take those numbers out of the motorcycle crash statistics and they would be more realistic.
Unlicensed riders also tend to have 25% more serious injury crashes than licensed riders, MUARC says.
That’s probably because they tend to ride older motorcycles that don’t have modern and safer brakes and handling characteristics.
The prevalence of these illegal riders on our roads is also used as an excuse by police to perform prejudicial enforcement (some call it harassment).
Some may welcome police conducting regular licence checks on riders to weed out those without a valid licence.
However, police could just as easily rely on their Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology.
Instead, they discriminate against all riders by pulling them over in larger numbers than other motorists.