It seems riders will continue to be treated as criminals in the name of road safety and research, after the latest study includes questions on criminal behaviour.
The current West Australian government study into motorcycle safety asks questions about criminal behaviour which is not included in any road safety survey of other motorists as far as we can attest.
It follows a 2015 Queensland University of Technology study which found repeat high-speed offenders are more likely to hold a motorcycle licence and have a criminal history.
It also follows the discovery that of the 25 motorcycle deaths in Victoria so far this year, there is a disproportionately high rate of unlicensed riders and stolen bikes involved.
And the WA survey and study of the road toll from 2010-15 has found that “a significant proportion” of riders involved in crashes were unlicensed, driving out of class, 20% had excessive alcohol in their system and most riders killed had accumulated infringements.
Now that links have been “discovered” between criminal behaviour and the motorcycle toll, it seems inevitable that more attention will be diverted to research and policing of criminal activity of riders.
In fact, WA Police are setting up a section to specifically target motorcyclists.
WA Motorcycle Riders Association president Dave Wright says the WA Government Review into Motorcycle Safety conducted an in-depth study of the people involved in fatal and serious motorcycle crashes including their traffic infringements.
“They also expanded that to include criminal records as there seemed to be a growing trend of the riders’ involvement in long-term criminal behaviour and this was thought to follow through to their riding behaviour,” he says.
“Really, (they were) looking if there was a large representation of riders involved in crashes who don’t care about the law or rules and will break them regardless of what any safety measures put in place. This was done so that the police could identify this group of people and use targeted approaches.
“In my role in reviewing all fatal and serious motorcycle crashes in WA there does seem a number of crashes that fall into this basket.”
In the wake of the survey, the WA Government is proposing a zero BAC limit for a learner rider, tougher alcohol restrictions for probationary riders, improved public awareness campaigns, enhanced training and the introduction of competency-based practical assessments, instead of the current “error-based” test, where riders are marked down for mistakes.
Dave says the majority of the review’s recommendations are “common sense” and he expected they would have the support of a “vast majority” of riders.