No substitute for experience

The state government is in the process of drafting a new Bill to improve safety for motorcycle riders, with a major change being to lift the minimum age from 16 to 18 for learner riders to gain their licence.
Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services Corey Wingard said this age rise will ensure riders have time to gain more experience and get a better understanding of the road rules, however many people disagree.
Balaklava businessman, and motorcyclist, Roger Hahn, said the change is a knee-jerk reaction, and the government is just ‘shifting the goal posts’ for riders.
“There is no substitute for experience – farm kids can ride when they are 14 and many just ride off-road – so all the politicians are doing is changing those early ‘experience years’ from 16 to 18, to 18 to 20,” he said.
“There are so many factors that should be considered and discussed – motorbikes for L and P platers need to be limited to a maximum CC, and riders need to be seen better, perhaps even have flashing lights like cyclists.”
“Speed plays a big part too and people take risks – generally learners are more careful and their bikes aren’t as heavy either.”
Another local motorcyclist, Steve Renshaw, who has been riding since he was six years old, agrees the age shouldn’t be raised.
“Young people usually have much better reaction time, and better vision than older people, and while many of them know how to ride already, the real skill is reading roads and road traffic,” Steve said.
“Nothing beats road experience, so while riders have to undertake driving and safety lessons, perhaps a virtual reality/simulator of real-life reaction driving would be beneficial.”
“Many older drivers have a mid-life crisis, with the weight/power ratio for older drivers not applied to them like it is for L platers.”
This thought might line-up with DPTI statistics, as 10 of the 17 motorbike rider fatalities in 2019 were from the 30-plus age group, with five in the 30-39 year group alone.
When licencing changes were made in 2014, allowances were made for those who needed to drive outside curfew hours and at night times for work.
However if licences can’t be obtained until 18, what allowances will be made for these young people, and those in country areas without access to public transport?
“As a government, we want to do everything we can to bring that (toll) down in 2020 and to ensure motorcycle riders are equipped with the critical experience and knowledge they need to keep safe on our roads,” Mr Wingard said.
While Mr Wingard stated, ‘research tells us that phasing in privileges for beginners does reduce the number of crashes among young licence holders’, however using wider statistics to support his claims could appear confusing and misleading.
“We don’t need politicians just plucking things out of nowhere and changing things for no real reason,” Roger said.
The amendments are expected to be introduced to Parliament in the coming months, so contact your local MP if you wish to comment.