Proposed learner restrictions will do nothing to reverse SA death toll

24 Feb

The proposed changes to motorcycling licences as put forward by Adelaide University’s Centre for Automotive Safety Research for the Transport Department will do nothing to reverse the number of deaths on SA roads. The proposals include:-

  • raising the minimum riding age from 16 to 18 years.
  • forcing 50cc scooter/moped riders to hold a full R licence. Currently they require a car licence.
  • riders on L plates for at least 6 months and increasing R-date licences (equivalent of P plates) from 1 to 2 years.
  • imposing a curfew on learners from midnight to 5am and a total ban on drugs/alcohol.
  • enforcing the wearing of high visibility clothing.
  • introducing ‘on road’ licence testing and a new ‘hazard perception’ test.

Other changes such as not using phones, not being allowed to tow trailers and not being allowed a pillion passenger have also been put forward, but I would have thought that these are already prohibited for learners.

The 36-page review, entitled Recommendations for a graduated Licencing System for Motorcyclists in South Australia, rules out mandatory protective clothing, but it urges other measures such as improved infrastructure spending, better vehicle technology as well as training and police enforcement.  The report is on this website where readers can complete a survey and make their own submissions. I urge all members too make their voice heard by contributing to the discussion and completing the survey.

Overall these recommendations will lead to punitive measures which delay any young rider who wishes to get a motorcycle licence. One positive is the scooter/moped riders who will no longer be able to ride their machines with just a car licence, although I have reservations regarding the automatic licence detail. Currently in SA car drivers can pass a test in an automatic and then drive a manual car. The proposal is that passing your bike test on an automatic bike means you can only ride an automatic bike. Cars and motorbikes should be treated the same, so surely car drivers who pass a test in an auto should only drive autos!

In my opinion, the recommendations do nothing to address the original problem ie. the high 2017 death rate amongst motorcyclists. What proportion of deaths can be attributed to young learner riders? According to the figures, from 2013 out of 62 deaths on SA roads only 2 were under 18. Good, cheap and available training would be the way to go. There is no advanced training available in Adelaide. I know there is a returned riders refresher course, but I’m unsure of the quality and I’m not able to comment on learner facilities in this state. I do agree that on-road testing is essential and that ‘hazard protection’ should be part of basic training.

HiViz clothing – this is the thin end of the wedge, as far as I’m concerned and will give motorists further reason to claim a SMIDSY, if other riders aren’t wearing fluoro. My argument is, modern bikes already have lights ‘always on’ (my own bike has 2 close together) if you can’t see bikes, you shouldn’t be on the road. This is the government’s excuse to bring this in for ALL eventually – that’s my fear. If you’ve ever seen that YouTube clip when a police motorcyclist, dressed head to toe in yellow fluoro, sirens wailing, lights flashing tries to stop the traffic on a motorway and gets run over by a car, you will realise that is doesn’t matter what we wear, they STILL won’t see us! I note that motorcyclists however are able to notice other motorcycles easily.

Meanwhile, riders could do themselves a favour by wearing suitable protective clothing. There are far to many ‘squids’ riding around Adelaide dressed in shorts and  t-shirts, some even have open footwear and no gloves. Don’t those Mick Doohan ads mean anything?