Learner riders face tougher licence testing

Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey goes for a ride with RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding - learner riders

Learner riders could face tougher testing procedures under proposals in a discussion paper which would bring Queensland into line with graduated licensing schemes in other states.

If implemented, Queensland would then actually have the toughest tests for a learner rider as it is the only state that requires potential riders to hold a car licence for a year before obtaining a learner’s permit.

Releasing a motorcycle licensing discussion paper today (July 26, 2015), Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey says novice motorcycle riders are over-represented in the road crash statistics and “something must be done”.

He asks Queenslanders to have a say in an associated ONLINE SURVEY which goes live from midnight tonight. Submissions close on September 6.

The first question in the survey is a review of the discriminatory and provocative car licence requirement brought in by the previous Labor administration. (We’re still not sure how someone who never wants to drive a car would go about getting bike licence!)

Learner riders - Calum demonstrates slow riding techniques

Other “possible changes” suggested in the discussion paper and queried in the survey are:

  • An additional pre-learner training and assessment course away from public roads;
  • A minimum period for holding a motorcycle learner licence (with options up to 12 months);
  • A minimum period before progressing to an open licence (with options up to four years).

Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns congratulates the Minister for consulting with the organisation and urges riders to have their say in the survey.

MRAQ president Chris Mearns - learner riders
MRAQ president Chris Mearns

He commends the suggestion of an extra pre-learner training course to increase Q Ride contact with riders during the licensing process from two to three times.

There is no mention in the discussion paper of whether learner riders would therefore face an extra financial impost from the extra testing.

However, Chris warns against anything that makes licensing more of a burden for learner riders, fearing a return to the days before Q Ride when as many as 20% of riders were unlicensed because of tough and expensive licensing rules.

Chris suggests the current two-day Q Ride course be split into a half-day pre-learner course and a one-and-a-half-day licence training course.

The Minister, who admits he is not a rider but says his brother was “into Katanas” (the Suzuki, not the sword), stresses the need to “ensure novice riders are better prepared for riding on the road” by increasing their skills and experience before gaining a learner’s permit and graduating to a provisional and open motorcycle licence.

Chris agrees that the current system of allowing learner licence holders to “immediately play on the road” needs addressing.

However, he urges perspective on the Minister’s crash and fatality figures saying this year’s leap in fatalities to 32 comes after the lowest year on record and that the growth in licensed riders outweighs the increase in crashes.

RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding, Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey and MRAQ president Chris Mearns - learner riders
RACQ spokesman Steve Spalding, Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey and MRAQ president Chris Mearns

The Minister admits there is nothing in the discussion paper or survey that addresses the other burgeoning area of crash statistics; returned riders.

Other areas of discussion include:

  • The need for developing a standardised Q Ride curriculum, including hazard perceptions and attitudes to risk-taking;
  • The importance of a practical assessment before obtaining an open licence if novices have to spend longer on a restricted licence;
  • A zero-alcohol limit for provisional licence holders; and
  • Restrictions on novices carrying a pillion.

You can download the full discussion paper here.

11 Comments

  1. Police riders undergo extensive training. It would be revealing to see what their accident statistics are. I suspect that the result would show that deep extensive rider training, – as distinct from what we have now, – would dramatically reduce the toll.

    The current concept of punishing riders/drivers who ‘do the wrong thing’, – is like yelling in English at someone who does not speak the language, to make them understand. It does nothing to reduce the toll.

    Modern bikes have all sorts of amazing safety devices, like ABS and traction controls, that eliminate the (former) major causes of accidents. Clearly, the current program is not working, and it calls in to question the motives and intelligence of the authorities who persist with flogging a dead horse.

  2. Zero alcohol is just stupid and almost impossible even for a non drinker point O five is limit enough for all of us the science behind blood alcohol levels states that there is no impairment until you start getting above.08 so the zero tolerance for novice riders or drivers is more for the benefit of being seen to do something than actually doing anything.
    It would be better all round if people who have have been drinking and blow above 05 but below 08 get a talking to and maybe have to sit a lecture a do a driver safety course than get fined etc. the number of people who do something stupid to avoid an RBT and the damage a low range drink drive conviction can do lend credence to my words.
    Many people will think I’m nuts for what I just suggested but they should think about what I’m saying before reaching for the tar and feathers. I’m not talking about high range drink driving or habitual drunk drivers. I’m talking about those who may misjudge how much they’ve had or may be unaware they are still over the limit the next day, starting in with criminal charges under those circumstances is just wrong.

  3. The problem is with existing Q-ride schools, as the existing Q-ride program is totally inadequate, having a motorbike shop with there own Q-ride school is a huge conflict of interest, better Q-ride trainers, the solution is to have an off road practical training for brand new riders, mandatory refresher courses, industry whistle-blowers to back up problems in training, no need to have a car licence to get a bike licence, a trike to be an a car licence, Trainers to do a off road course ,yes have more time with the student then the tests would be a lot easier for the student, put in how to pick up a Motorbike as part off training, don’t put pressure on trainer to pass student so to sell a bike,in the long run to save one life for better training and some of road skills is a good day.

  4. As a retired licence examiner SA I can only agree re training .The problem examiners had in the past was the amount of time allocated to each test. 10 to 15 minutes was totally unacceptable. I would like to see at least one hour testing after the appropriate amount of training.

    Im 69 ride a harley and learn something every ride.

  5. In principal I don’t have an objection to riders being better prepared before they are put on the road. However the implementation actually has to serve the purpose of improving riders skills rather than just making life more difficult in the hope to discourage people.

    With regards to holding a car license first I personally believe that driving a car before a bike actually has the effect of reducing skills and awareness of new riders. People feel artificially safe in their cars, they are shielded from the impact of water, gravel and oil on the roads and they are used to being seen. This is then transferred to riding a bike.

    1. Also bad habits can become ingrained before a trainer can teach them the correct way and the biggest killer of novice riders is foot brakes.
      When you drive a car your body learns that the brake is under your foot.
      Too many new riders have died trying to stop by slamming down on the foot brake.
      The other issue is timing things have a different timing when preformed in a car as opposed to a bike, when I drive I often find myself applying bike timing to things like braking and lane changes that’s not really a problem but using car timing on a bike is.
      I got my bike license shortly after I had just got my open car license. At that time it ment I could buy and ride any bike on Ls so I bought the biggest I could afford
      Having ridden push bikes and mini bikes often as a kid I already had many of the skills needed to ride on the road taking a holiday and riding from Sydney to Melbourne through Canberra and back taught me most othe the rest the bits that I don’t have I’m still learning

  6. Well, can I say that a company I worked for sent me to an advanced driver training course at Mt Cotton (for no other reason than tax relief). Found the information & education just as immensely beneficial as the “hands on”. Tutorial Staff very helpful & understanding. Point I’m trying to make is that the introduction to learning to ride CAN and SHOULD be a valuable and pleasant experience.

  7. Well, it’s easy for us/me, who have had their M/cycle licence for 30 plus years to say bugger the young ones… But for someone who never wants to drive a car , has to get a car licence to be able to get a motorbike licence … Like. U know XXX . Also a zero alcohol limit for well I think most is a load of XXXX & I don’t mean the beer.. We don’t want to scare the new away, making it all too hard & btw… Some will just ride anyway with licence or not as plenty do within cars.. I say to the extremely foolish & or eccentric pollys (lunatics) Do not make it all too hard for the new wanting to ride a motorcycle, it will come back to bite you on the , well again , U know what! 😉

  8. According to CARRS the center for accident research and road safety-Queensland
    Bicycles make up one third of transport related injuries reporting to emergency departments
    Do we see any of this crap aimed at pushbikes?
    I see 10 year olds riding around in traffic, are they more responsible than an adult on a 50cc scooter?
    Wouldn’t have anything to do with lobbying and “donations”from the insurance industry
    would it?
    They want my opinion they’ll get it !

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