Concerns over unlicensed rider crashes

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Two recent incidents of 14-year-old boys stealing and crashing a motorcycle and scooter have again raised the issue of unlicensed riders adding to the motorcycle crash statistics.

Queensland Police have charged a 14-year-old Manunda boy with numerous offences involving a stolen motorcycle, hitting and injuring a five-year-old boy in the street and leaving the scene of an accident.

In the other incident a 14-year-old NSW boy has appeared in Albury Court after crashing a stolen scooter and injuring himself and his 15-year-old female pillion, neither of whom was wearing a helmet.

Unlicensed rider crash statistics

According to the Monash University Accident Research Centre about 7% of all motorcycle crashes were unlicensed or under-licensed riders, meaning they were riding a bike that they were not licensed to ride.

Unlicensed riders also tend to have 25% more serious injury crashes than licensed riders, MUARC says.

These incidents add to the crash statistics used by police, politicians and safety Nazis to justify discriminatory enforcement and higher penalties against riders.

So it is important that action is taken to reduce the incidence of unlicensed or under-licensed riding.

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Some may believe there is little that can be done to curb the enthusiasm of young people who want to steal a bike for a joy ride or novice riders from trying a larger bike.

However, increased police patrols and licence checks would help.

Victorian Police have added 300 hours of extra shifts to patrol the state’s roads after a spate of road fatalities.

While we might find licence checks intimidatory and discriminatory police harassment, we should also consider that they are helping to reduce the number of unlicensed riders.

It may not be obvious to police that a rider is under aged, so random licence checks become necessary.

After all, some 14-year-old boys can be quite adult in size and a helmet can disguise their age, although that was not an issue in the Albury incident.

The increasing use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition by police might also have benefits in reducing unlicensed and under-licensed riding.

Growing unlicensed rider numbers

MUARC says the proportion of unlicensed riders on the road has almost doubled in the past decade.

It is no coincidence that this coincides with tougher and more expensive licensing in most states.jake Dolan racer and learner rider at AMA training road craft age unlicensed

While most riders would agree that tougher licensing and more training is vital, 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!

5 Comments

  1. I thought stealing a car or bike was something from the last century, and modern technology all but made it impossible to start a vehicle without the key?

  2. There may be two arguments regarding availability of licensing and training…
    On one hand – making it expensive and longer to obtain means that only those serious about it with the means will stick at it and may therefore become safer riders.
    …the flip side is, it’s discriminatory and just because you lack the means or the time is no reflection on your future riding ability – and it’s going to make theft or unlicensed riding a tempting option.

    Having grown up in the country, I’m completely against any increases in licensing complexity and cost, be it motorcycle or vehicle.
    The first vehicle I had was a motorcycle, and it was a tool on the farm – used everyday. We learned to respect our limitations and thus ride to our capabilities because we knew it would hurt us as well as others and the loss of the vehicle as a tool would make it worse.
    We are reading in the news daily about primary producers and rural areas doing it tough, so why make things tougher?
    If we want to curb unlicensed riding/driving then make it a subject at school so it’s taught in the learning environment by professionals, instead of in a big rush when the kid is 18 – by parents who probably can’t drive properly themselves.

  3. While i applaud the death of anyone stealing a motorcycle [especially mine] there
    are the consequences to others of stolen vehicles ,especially cars. About time it was not looked at as
    ‘joyriding’ that implies some juvenile ‘high jinks’ but a serious. crime. We dont want to see it reaching
    the horrific heights it did in the uk with riders being subjected to hammer and acid attacks .
    and blatant daylight thefts. Nor mere manslaughter charges for causing death in charge of a stolen vehicle.

    1. Agree Pete, just as “King hit” / “one punch” was renamed to “coward punch” there needs to be a new less glamorous name for “joyriding”.

    2. I agree. I have always felt that if you commit a crime and someone is seriously injured or killed then the excuse of “I didn’t mean it to happen” should be void. If you commi9t the crime then you did so knowing there could be consequences so it should be looked at as premeditated not accidental.

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