Mandate alcohol lock, ABS, visibility says Prof

ABS alcohol lock road safety safe

Every motorcycle should come with an alcohol interlock, ABS and other electronic rider aids, while riders should be “lit up like a Christmas tree”, according to a controversial road safety researcher.

University of New South Wales Transport and Road Safety Research Centre Professor Raphael Grzebieta recently told the NSW Parliament’s Motorcycle Safety Inquiry that technology would help reduced motorcycle crashes.

He says there should be immediate legislation for mandating ABS, an assisted braking system and “any other systems that keep a motorcycle upright”.ABS

“I currently have an iPhone which, when I turn on, identifies my thumbprint and turns on. I think every single motorcycle should have a thumbprint to prevent illegal riding,” he says.

“I also believe that each motorcycle should have an alcohol interlock because we have seen that alcohol and drugs have a huge effect on the ability of a motorcyclist to stay on their motorbike and also to avoid hazards.”

Toxicological reports from the Australian National Coroners Information System have found that 47% of motorcyclists have consumed alcohol and/or drugs prior to a crash.

“An alcohol interlock should be mandatory for every motorcycle,” the professor says. “From now on any new vehicles that come in should be developed and fitted to these machines.”

However he has recanted on an earlier call for the blood alcohol count (BAC) for all motorcyclists and scooter riders to be set at .02, not .05, as has been done in Sweden.

He now says the Swedish system has not been effective, which is why he is instead calling for alcohol interlocks.

The professor also believes in a technological answer to the old problem of riders not being seen by other motorists – called SMIDSY which stands for “Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You”.

“There is a device called Mobileye, which is now being used throughout the commercial world,” he says. “I have just come back from Chile and every single vehicle has this device. It can pick up a pedestrian, a cyclist or a motorcyclist at considerable distance.

“I think some of these devices will start coming in, particularly at night. Conspicuity at night is awful. I can barely see pedestrians when I am driving around. I think a motorcyclist should be lit up like a Christmas tree so that you can see them.”

He also believes the trend of older riders returning to motorcycling and being over-represented in crash statistics can be dealt with by “some sort of restrictions”. (While the professor has previously suggested speed limiters or governors, he doesn’t mention them here.)

“People are getting older and they have more income, so they like to go back to their earlier years of riding a motorbike,” he says.

“I think it is important that anyone coming back and reinstating their licence or using the vehicle—I do not know how you would police it—but certainly should undergo some form of retraining or relicensing,” he says.

“I think that if a person has not ridden for a long time they need to do that. Riding a bicycle or skiing—for example, I love skiing and hopping straight onto the skis. It takes me a few runs before I get there. I think the same should apply to motorcyclists.

“I think that motorcyclists, before they can get full control of the vehicle, should have some sort of restriction applied there, if they have been off it for a long time.”

The NSW Uni website says the professor has “over 30 years of research and practical experience in crashworthiness and road safety”.

Professor Raphael Grzebieta alcohol lock
Professor Raphael Grzebieta

“Raphael has published over 200 publications and supervised numerous PhD and Masters students in the areas of vehicle crashworthiness, occupant protection, roadside barriers and impact loading,” his CV says.


  1. The prof likes skiing. I wonder what he has to say about a hobby that involves such speeds, with equipment that has no brakes, and there is no licensing, third party insurance or registration. If the prof gets T-boned on a ski slope, will it be his fault for not wearing a hi-vis vest?

  2. I’m currently considering the purchase of a 14th century suit of armour. Inside I am going to fill with shock-resistant foam padding, and I’m going to paint the outside with black and yellow stripes. And that’s just for going outside the house. For the bike I am thinking a bullet-proof kevlar outer shell over the armour. The bike I’m going to paint fluro yellow and fit flashing lights and warning beepers because obviously the exhaust has to remain within statutory sound limits. I’m also thinking some kind of outrigger stabilisers to keep the bike upright. Hopefully that should keep nanny happy enough until some windbag professor feels the need to justify their position by dreaming up some other ludicrous scheme to constrain our freedom and dumb us down still further.

  3. The prof also has a rather brilliant idea off powering an electric bike by the wind blowing on the propeller on his head as he rides along.

  4. Funny I have heard the SMIDSY excuse both on my motorcycle and after two different people ran into my van in broard daylight (5m long x 2m high….whats not to see?). Those who crash into others should have the retraining and restrictions placed on them…like a vigorous advanced road skills testing of failed drivers! Mandatory breath test units in drink driver vehicles…..for those who have a history of drink driving (eg. More than one offence). Next thing he’ll be recommending Jame Bond stlye self-inflating crash suits, or permanent training wheels!

    1. Maybe professor “I can barely see pedestrians when i am driving around” magoo might make us all
      safer by handing in his own license

  5. I’ve just read a load of twaddle. I am an older rider, having obtained my licence a year ago. My husband has returned to riding after a considerable absence. We did the sensible thing and bought a couple of 250cc bikes. I did my learner rider course in 1999 with the view of getting my licence then, but we waited until the kids grew up and had extra money to buy a bike. I have used that course to teach my boys how to ride (using my experience and memory for slow speed control).

    Now I will admit, I panicked after coming off my bike whilst riding home after picking it up (yes, I know what caused me to come off, lesson learned, ‘new’ bike and hidden qualities). It took me another six weeks to get back on the blessed thing. I had one very good contributor to getting back on – my husband, and mentor.

    With the two 250cc motorcycles (one a single cylinder, the other a twin) my husband took me to the quiet streets of town, eg, industrial area on a weekend, and I went through my learner course memories and gained back my confidence and memory of how I should ride (in accordance with the training course) as well as reading and watching videos online for more up to date information.

    My husband had to re-learn his skills as well and I will admit for the first few months, I was lucky to get over 70km in a 100km zone due to him feeling his way again. He re-sat his rider licence (having let it lapse years ago) and passed, going straight onto a full licence. I left the licence bit another three months until I was satisfied I was ready to move to Ps (which I held for 12 months). We took the mandatory road trip (as you do) had a ball doing it (as you do).

    He now has a larger bike, and I’m now riding the twin 250cc, with a lot more confidence (plus I’ve grown another few sets of eyes and keep a look out everywhere). I believe my riding has made me a better driver (though I am a professional driver with an MR licence as well). It amazes me that there are so many ‘brain dead’ car drivers out there, they have every gadget imaginable to distract them, even if it is a GPS, radio or just other passengers.

    I truly believe that motorcycle riders are very well trained in what they do, granted there may be a few that are a bit of a worry, as in all walks of life, but we should be looking at teaching our young drivers to respect all vehicles on the road and pay attention, send these kids on a learner course for motorcycles, they teach everyone to take notice of the size of a vehicle and how much room that vehicle needs to move and stop. And above all else, if you are an oldie coming back to the adventure, make sure you have the skills you need to help you enjoy an uplifting experience.

    Why do we ride? Only a motorcyclist understands why a dog leans his head out of an open car window.

  6. In the event of a zombie apocalypse the good
    professor gets my vote as the one most deserving
    of being eaten alive. Hopefully by the members of neuroscience
    research and the ausroads walking dead.

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