Motorcycles, speed and crime linked

Police cops speed speeding motogp

Repeat high-speed offenders are more likely to hold a motorcycle licence and have a criminal history, according to a Queensland University of Technology study.

It suggests more severe penalties for these offenders including vehicle impoundment, speed-limiting devices and drink-driving-style sanctions.

The “Accident Analysis and Prevention” study was compiled by researchers at the QUT Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety.

Road safety researcher and co-author Dr Judy Fleiter says it is the first study of its kind to investigate the criminal history, personal characteristics, traffic offences and crash history of high-range speeding offenders.

Police cops Judy Fleiter QUT CARRS-Q speed
QUT researcher Dr Judy Fleiter

The study profiles offenders from 84,456 speeding offences in Queensland classified in three groups: once-only low-range offenders; repeat high-range offenders; and other offenders.

It found 55.2% of repeat high-range speeding offenders had a criminal history.

The study also found repeat speeders were more likely:

  • to be male, younger, hold a provisional and a motorcycle licence;
  • to have committed a range of previous traffic offences;
  • to have a significantly greater likelihood of crash involvement;
  • to have been involved in multiple-vehicle crashes; and
  • to have committed drug offences.

Offenders who held a motorcycle licence were 1.6 times more likely to be repeat high-range offenders compared with those offenders with just a car licence.

Judy points out that Department of Transport and Main Roads data did not show which type of vehicle an offender who held a motorcycle licence was driving or riding at the time of the infringement.

Despite her caveat, the findings are nothing new. The link between youth, motorcycles, speed and crime has long been written in folklore and is exemplified in movies from The Wild One to Mad Max.

Mad Max Fury Road
Mad Max Fury Road

The study also says the findings are consistent with annual community attitude surveys that show people with full motorcycle licences are significantly less likely than other licence class holders (except heavy vehicle) to have conservative attitudes to speeding and its enforcement.


In conclusion, the study suggests stiffer speeding fines for high-range offences despite acknowledging that “there is limited evidence to indicate that increasing the severity of sanctions and penalties, in isolation, can deter offending”.

It even points out that serious offenders are more likely to view the risks associated with detection and punishment as low and see the rewards of offending as greater than the possible costs.Police cops  speed speeding

Therefore it also suggests a range of “innovative countermeasures” such as behavioural modification programs, vehicle impoundment, and/or the compulsory installation of Intelligent Speed Adaptation devices in the vehicles of high-range and repeat speeding offenders.

The report says an education campaign is important to ensure motorists are aware that penalties have increased and detection and apprehension “is relatively certain”.

“In the context of the current study, the findings suggest that graduated penalty schemes, whereby more severe sanctions are administered for high-range and repeat speeding offences (e.g. similar to drink driving sanctions in Australia and some other countries), may be necessary to deter problematic traffic offenders. In addition, other lessons may also be learnt from drink driving sanctions (e.g. the use of alcohol ignition interlocks and vehicles impoundment for repeat offenders).”

  • What do you think of the findings and recommended solutions? Have your say in the Comments section below.


  1. states that in NSW in 2012, accidents involving speed accounted for 16% of all traffic accidents…

    In 2012, the United Kingdom had HALF the fatalities per 100,000 head of population of Australia, despite having much more dangerous driving conditions due to a lot more rainy weather, than Australia and higher posted speed limits AND higher Blood Alcohol Limit. And despite the fact (and I rode a GSXR1100R for 5years there with not one speeding ticket) that as long as you don’t exceed 100mph (160kph) on the posted 70mph (112kph) motorways the police will not only leave you alone but sometimes actually wave to you as they ease past doing at least 120mph (192kph) or more !! On any UK motorway MOST of the traffic is travelling at least 145kph and up to 160kph.

    So why is it in Australia that all we get shoved down our throats on TV from the Government is speeding this and drinking that (the limit used to be .07 here and still is in the UK – remember their road fatality rate per capita is HALF ours !!). Expensive adverts that we all pay for to aim at factors that don’t involve 79% of all accidents !!

    Like Steve said – kill someone and you drive home. As the majority of accidents happen at intersections because idiots (who are not speeding I might add) can’t give way or obey Stop signs or traffic lights signals or Road Rules or stay off their mobile or look and indicate before changing lanes or leave a safe gap for the vehicle in front.

    How about the at fault driver in ANY accident lose their license for 6 to 12 months instantly. Because THAT driver HAS caused an accident by their negligence or incompetence and damaged another vehicle and could have or has either injured or killed an innocent road user. And if that person is involved in a SECOND accident where you are proven to be solely at fault in say a 5 or 10 year period then double the lose of license period and so on increasing with each incident. This might actually get the drivers who really shouldn’t be driving, who ARE ACTUALLY causing accidents off the road for the good of everybody !!

    In fact I would postulate that if you are a habitual speeder over a long period of years and yet never been involved in a traffic accident (like myself) then quite possibly you are in fact a very good driver to be able to achieve that as opposed to a driver who has never sped but has been involved in numerous at fault accidents and should in fact be permanently relegated to public transport for the good of all road users.

    Given the vulnerability of motorcyclists to injury from accidents it would seem counter to common sense for us to speed if we felt that the increased speed greatly increased our risk of accident and thereby injury. More it is common knowledge that riding at a slightly brisk pace not only keeps one out of trouble but also heightens one’s sense of awareness and concentration more so than feeling safe from all danger because one is brainlessly daydreaming along (as so many car drivers excel at) going the low posted speed limit only to be caught unawares by an incident out of the blue that causes an accident. An accident that could have been avoided if driving at a more efficient and alert type of pace.

    Anyhow the entire SPEED KILLS argument makes absolutely no sense. Speed in itself DOES NOT KILL. The actual accelerating to a certain speed, maintaining of said speed for a given period and then slowing down again to a stop does NOT KILL. See it all the time at the quarter-mile all the time !! Now a SUDDEN STOP from speed CAN and often DOES kill but speeding of itself does not kill. And guess what, the current speed limits are all already high enough to get killed from if one comes to a sudden stop from them anyway. Hit a car that pulls out in front of you at the 100kph speed limit or hit another car going 100kph head-on a road barely wide enough for you both to pass and you’ll be just as dead as if you were going 120kph or 140kph or even 250kph just the debris won’t be scattered as far. We need to stop worrying about the speed and worry about the causing of actual collisions and how to prevent them if we are to get serious about road accident prevention. As I quoted earlier, the United Kingdom has half the fatalities of Australia per year per 100,000 head of population and they manage that with higher speed limits, higher allowable alcohol limit, denser traffic and far worse weather conditions. Why just demonize and focus all energy on the 16% of accidents that have speed as a contributing factor and at least research why the UK is doing twice as well as we are at saving lives on the road.

  2. Causal Links?
    The same as the one between pollution, Crime and Corruption, Power, Authority and the love of money.
    That wraps up all the government agents.

  3. The demonization of speeding is a big issue, just as is the link of increased fines. As most have pointed out, where is the evidence that increased fines is in fact a deterrent.

    I would like to see a more comprehensive study that included the mental health gains and community services provided by riders who look after each other. Bet that would surprise quite a few.

  4. I dod my own research and found that nearly 100% of acidenents occured whilst the driver was wearing undies. Accordingly by our governments logic if we ban knickers in Aus that will completely illuminate the road toll.

  5. You know the funny thing? Linking speeding (which is not a criminal act) to a person with a criminal record. I LOVE how they try and make speeding SO much worse than it is in this country. Australia is by FAR the worst for flogging the dead horse for speeding and revenue raising in the world! Instead of actually providing better driver training (take Germany for example) they just keep raising the profits from it and care little for the lives lost (even though they say they do). If they really cared they would take Germany’s approach but this will NEVER happen because politicians as we all know, are JUST in it for the money and themselves.

    1. You are so right Ozbloke34. The authorities really overdo it when it comes to speeding. A while back in Qld they had TV ads with the slogan “Every K over is a killer.” That is saying if you are doing 100km/h in a 100km/h zone you are safe. But if you are doing 101km/h you are in great danger. Do they really think we are that stupid? Are they really stupid enough to believe their own message, or believe that we will believe it?

      It is well past time that they loosen up a little. They are causing all road users to be tense and distracted, which causes road accidents instead of preventing them. Of course it is not happening for two reasons. It raises a lot of revenue. And the police get a thrill out of booking people because it gives them a sense of power. They are not at all focussed on road safety. They are just out there to ‘get’ the motorist for their own pleasure. In other words, the police are not doing their job right.

  6. What this research fails to do is quantify how many people who hold a motorcycle licence are not criminalised. Therefore no comparison can be made. It would appear that the researcher may have manipulated the findings to support a particular viewpoint.

  7. Just another futile attempt to legislate what is ‘normal’ as a way of justifying more draconian speeding penalties. I particularly like the genius of identifying a nexus between criminality and the propensity to speed. Like you need research to come up with that. The nexus is actually that the disobedient will more likely speed. I know. I am habitually disobedient, but have so far avoided criminality. But I wonder how long my luck can hold out against that wowserism of defining social ‘normality’.

  8. Kill someone and drive home. Drive too fast and dont crash lose your licence and your car. How about we start getting the people that crash and hurt other people off the road rather than the people that dont crash.

  9. The reporting is backwards. The implication is that those who speed become more likely to commit a crime. In fact those who are already criminals don’t balk at disobeying other laws. The same conclusions can be reached with those who illegally park – especially using disabled bays.

    1. Exactly. In which case, if you’re a criminal, increasing the fines doesn’t work.
      When does it stop – capital punishment? Yet even the death sentence has been proven to be no deterrent.

    2. In the 27years of habitual speeding since I got a license, I have never even been close to being tempted to being involved in any sort of criminality. I just like to ride a bit quick and if there’s no one around and its safe – a lot quick !! Why ?? Cause its exhilarating and super fun and I love it (and 08′ Hayabusa’s are fast !!).

      Why don’t I just do it on a track ?? Coz I like to do it before work and after work every day and Saturday mornings and most of Sunday and it’s free (except for the rego etc).

      To link high speed and criminality is to say that surely all racing car and motorcycle racers would then also be into crime !! They must surely – they like speed !!

      More likely is that “most criminals speed” more than “most speeders commit crime”…. Someone who breaks a serious law is not going to worry about obeying a less serious law like speeding that carries a fine whereas someone just breaking a less serious law like speeding WOULD think twice about a more serious crime that he could go to jail for.

      Example – an axe-murdering rapist would probably not think much about stealing the newspaper off your front lawn if you were on holiday. A person who’s only criminal activity his entire life was stealing your morning newspaper would not necessarily be prone to be a prime candidate to go on a axe-murdering rape spree coz of his to date newspaper stealing exploits !!

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