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On-Road Motorcycle Rider Training Program Returns To the Gold Coast

16 Feb , 2017,
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There have been plenty of calls in recent times for an affordable road based rider training program to be re-introduced on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Rising crash rates and increased injuries and fatalities in the region have created concern among both authorities and rider groups.

As fatalities in the region reach numbers not seen in almost 10 years, the Australian Road Safety Foundation and Motorcycle Life have joined forces with the Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast to develop the SMART Rider Program.

The SMART Rider Program will help riders to identify risks, give them strategies to avoid those risks and to make better decisions on the road.

Whether you’ve been riding for a while, you’re just new or coming back to riding after a long break, the SMART Rider Program will help you to be a better rider.

The Program is a full day training course involving theory sessions, demonstrations, facilitated discussions, and a mentored road ride in the environment where riders spend most of their time – public roads.

The program begins in March and riders from the Gold Coast and surrounding areas can now register for the course at

One of the aims in developing the course was to keep it affordable, and the program has been funding has been provided by the Queensland Government Road Safety Grants.

That has allowed the course fees to be kept to just $95 per day.

For more information go to or call 1300 961 335.

MRAQ New Design-3 crop

MEDIA RELEASE Reporting of motorcycle crash statistics

14 Feb , 2017,
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The MRAQ is always in full support of the promotion of safety issues targeted at all road users and more specifically motorcycle riders and pillions and actively encourages all riders to gain addition training and skills plus to always ride with-in the limits of each individual’s ability, however it is far too often the case that inaccurate or misleading data and statistical information is used when referenced in some media and Government output on these items.

Most commonly the raw figure of fatality numbers is used to highlight the need for action to be taken in relation to motorcycle safety and although this information does form part of the necessary statistical data that should be used for the generation of discussion or action it does not tell the whole story of what is happening on the matter and the consideration of other available statistical information should also be included. The most common information that gets ignored either by ignorance of its existence or by wilful exclusion is the relationship between crash rates and the number of vehicles on the road. This relationship cannot be ignored as it obviously will have a great impact on the possibility of being involved in a crash if the number of vehicles greatly alters.

For a considerable period of time motorcycles have represented the highest percentage increase group for registrations of all road users year on year. This increase rate can be best highlighted by comparing the registered amount of motorcycles on Queensland roads for the years June 2005 and June 2016. In this period the number of registered motorcycles increased by almost 100% from approx. 101000 in 2005 to approx. 198000 in 2016 and yet the fatality rate for these two years is almost the same with a number of individual years in between at a lower rate. This represents a decrease of approx. 50% in the fatality rate versus registered vehicle for the period. No other registered vehicle road user group has had such a percentage decrease. When this additional information is considered, and although as previously stated that the MRAQ encourages all riders to increase and accurately consider their own skills levels it can justifiably be claimed that in fact there has never been a safer time to be riding a motorcycle.

The MRAQ calls on parties that may be at any time considering the statistical data associated with motorcycles to use all the available information to its best effect and not ignore any part of the whole picture.


Chris Mearns

MRAQ President

Motorcyclists over 40 more likely to die on Queensland roads than young men

Men aged 40 and over account for 75 per cent of all motorbike deaths in Queensland, with the latest police figures challenging the long-held notion that young men are the biggest risk.

Eight people have already died in motorcycle accidents on state roads this year, with six of them aged 40 or over.

There were 12,028 motorcycles registered in Queensland in 2014-16.

In 2016, motorbike riders made up less then 4 per cent of all road used in Queensland.

Sixty-two riders and pillions died in 2016, accounting for a quarter of all road fatalities.

Queensland police Inspector Peter Flanders said speed, inexperience, and loss of control were the main contributors.

“Disproportionately, people dying on motorcycles are blokes my age,” he said.

“It’s not girls, it’s not the younger people — it’s blokes my age — and if you need to know I’m just over 50.

“We need to understand what switches on in blokes my age on a Saturday morning.

“[They] change from this calm, considered, collective, loving husband during the week, to this total fool on the weekend.

“I’ve been riding bikes for a long time, and I shudder when I see the figures every year.”
Other road users not the problem

Police statistics also debunk another commonly held belief that other road users were the main cause of motorcycle crashes.

Figures for 2016 showed two-thirds of motorbike crashes were caused by the rider.

The year before, 971 people were treated in hospitals after coming off a motorbike.
Loss of friend prompts safety campaign

Richard Wall’s best friend Dave Bailey died when he crashed his bike on the popular weekend route on Mt Nebo, north-west of Brisbane in 2015, just eight weeks after his wedding.

It was Mr Bailey’s 34th birthday and he had done the ride dozens of times before.

“He came off the road on a left-hand turn … hit a tree, and received fatal injuries,” Mr Wall said.

“The level of guilt that you feel when you’re supposed to be there and you feel like you could have done something to prevent it from happening.”

Mr Wall organised a memorial ride this month for his friend and started the RideSafely4Me campaign, aimed at reducing rider impulsiveness.

“RideSafely4Me is effectively about making people think twice when they throw their leg over the bike, and think about the people that would miss them if they were to do something stupid,” he said.

The Queensland Government recently launched a safety campaign featuring five-time world MotoGP champion Mick Doohan.

Doohan said riders had to develop a high level of awareness so they could read the road, the conditions, the potential hazards and stay focused and in control.

Inspector Flanders said buying a sports bike or cruiser was often an emotional decision.

“The majority of trips are for pleasure and not for work, so the challenge is to sell the objectivity — and I don’t know how we actually do that,” he said.


Motorcycles Are Learning to Save You From Your Own Recklessness

11 Feb , 2017,
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We all like to open it up every now and again, and Bosch is outfitting superbikes with the tech to make it safer.

A decade ago, rider skill was the last word in motorcycle performance. Until then, the dream for many riders was that in some far-off future, with enough practice, you might just be able to master your motorcycle. In the dream, you’d slide sideways into corners and spin up the rear tire on the way out, pull big wheelies at will, then haul it up safely in the worst of conditions.

The vast majority of riders never achieved this level of mastery—the job has instead been completed by PhDs around the globe who have been working feverishly to ease the rider’s workload. Their efforts have made the bikes themselves so capable that all riders will forever be playing catch-up—and none will ever succeed.

Even if computers haven’t quite “solved” motorcycling the way they’ve “solved” chess—and, more recently, the ancient Chinese strategy board game Go—the most advanced riding aids can now interpret a rider’s throttle and brake inputs and then dispatch more appropriate outputs with a level of precision and accuracy that even the world’s most skilled riders cannot hope to match.

Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control.

At first glance, it might seem that these technological advances could demoralize a rider—or a board game player—who wants to polish his skills. He’s no longer measuring himself against human, fallible giants like MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, or Go world champion Lee Sedol. His ultimate match is now against the unbeatable Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control (MSC) and its Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) (or in the case of games, Deep Blue and AlphaGo).

The Bosch MSC system runs behind the scenes of the top Ducatis, BMWs, and KTMs, and it uses a 6-axis accelerometer—the IMU—as well as suspension sensors to infer the instantaneous dynamic state of the motorcycle and send that information to a group of advanced safety systems. Thus informed, the rapid-pulsing ABS can brake at the limit, redistributing braking force between the front and rear wheels to help keep the motorcycle on track, even in mid-corner. Traction control minimizes rear-wheel slippage to ease rider workload and improve acceleration.

Anti-wheelie systems on older bikes worked by comparing front and rear wheel speeds—as soon as the rear wheel went faster than the front, the computer cut power. By interpreting the accelerometer’s data, however, Bosch’s system can deduce the bike’s pitch, and allows the front wheel to rise into the air without cutting power to the engine. The Super Duke GT also have semi-active suspension that can change damping settings thousands of times during a ride.

After a few highway miles aboard KTM’s 180 bhp, IMU-equipped Super Duke GT, it’s easy to wonder what all the fuss is about. It’s blindingly fast, but not faster than many conventional superbikes built in the last twenty years. In fact, during normal riding there’s only one clue that there’s a powerful gyroscopic brain lurking inside: when you lean into a bend at night, a bank of cornering lights turns on to light up the inside of the corner. If you don’t push the bike’s limits, you’ll never get a whiff of the IMU’s brilliance.

Fire the Super Duke GT down a mountain road, however, and prepare to recalibrate your idea of what a motorcycle can be.

The combination of the ABS and IMU systems can so effectively evaluate the interface between the tires and the road that the bike frees up the mental effort you had dedicated to assessing—or rather estimating—available traction. Instead of concentrating on the whole picture—deer, crests, slight changes in camber, etc.—you find yourself riding faster than ever before, and yet you remain mentally fresh when you finally stop.

However, to experience the magic of the IMU, your riding style must change. You must trust the computer. Leave the throttle wide open and the front wheel will lift over every crest, but the anti-wheelie will bring it back down again—sometimes many times on one straight. Your job becomes to avoid sand and diesel spills, and avoid coming into corners way too hot. Do that, and the bike will take care of any lingering worry you had about your ability to perform a mid-corner panic stop if you find yourself faced with an unanticipated obstacle. The IMU and ABS units are always waiting in the wings, waiting to take over and finesse the brakes at a moment’s notice.

At night, in the wet, the systems are even more impressive—and easier to exploit. On a motorcycle, both tire’s contact patches provide a constantly varying amount of grip as they cross over paint stripes and manhole covers, or are weighted and unweighted during acceleration and braking. On a conventional bike, the rider must avoid demanding more from the brakes or throttle than the available grip can provide—otherwise the tires will slide. On the KTM, the systems provide the rider with the option to keep each contact patch at the limit, effectively using the maximum available grip at all points during a maneuver. The effect is to reveal shocking amounts of available grip, even when there are a few slippery portions of road.

There is no longer a need to warm up mentally, or even to warm up the tires. All you have to do is keep the contact patches off zero-grip surfaces. The sketchiest part of my alpine blast was when I crossed a patch of gravel on the inside of a corner that had recently been resurfaced. The wheels slid sideways. Today’s electronics packages, impressive as they are, cannot handle this situation, However, Fevzi Yildirim—head of Bosch’s motorcycle safety group—dreams of a day when gyroscopes or outriggers or air blasts could deal with this type of loss of traction.

The KTM’s various electronic-aid packages can be turned off individually, but after you change the settings, you have to retune yourself. Without ABS, a panic stop demands more finesse at the levers. Do away with traction control and beware opening the throttle while leaned-over. Oh, and traction control and wheelie control are part of the same package—turn them off, and IMU will no longer intervene to help you tame that rising front wheel.

You’re faced with a now-eternal conundrum: are you able to recalibrate yourself well enough to justify the increase in fun against the increased risk of an accident? Reconfigurable electronics lead to second-guessing while riding at the limit—never a good thing.

Pushing one of these bikes to the limit is the thrilling intersection between science and sport. More than 100 years of development in tires, brakes, engines, and now electronics work together to put you in danger and simultaneously protect you from it.

There are instances where the electronics find themselves at odds with the spontaneous nature of motorcycle riders. The machine doesn’t know in advance when I’m going to want to wheelie for a group of kids, slide into a corner, or do a stoppie when I come up alongside one of my friends at a stoplight. At the same time, I can’t know when a deer is going to cross my path mid-corner, or when there will be a bit of sand in a braking zone. Maybe one day, bikes will deduce what electronic aids we want during a given maneuver by interpreting our control inputs. Until then, riders must choose in advance what electronic aids they want.

Recent flagship superbikes without IMUs upset the balance between road and machine. They were too powerful to deploy on unpredictable roads—either you were a poseur or a menace. Now, the electronics have enlarged the margin of safety, particularly at high speeds. The meanest bikes and the world’s most challenging and enjoyable roads once again find themselves in harmony.


Stricter quad bike laws are now in force

1 Feb , 2017,
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FROM today 1/2/2017 all quad bike riders and passengers will need to wear a helmet.

Previously riders could use registered and unregistered quad bikes on private property – such as farms – without one.

The changes that have come into effect also ban children under the age of 8 and kids who can not reach the footrests from riding on any quad bikes or utility off-road vehicles (also known as all-terrain vehicles).
Anyone who breaches the new helmet law will be fined $365 and hit with three demerit points.

This offence will also be subject to existing motorcycle helmet double demerit point penalties.

So if a rider commits two or more motorcycle helmet offences occur within 12 months, the second and subsequent offences will incur double demerit points.

But Bundy farmers are ahead of the safety game.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers chairman Allan Mahoney said while the farm he manages already does what is now legally required, he was pleased safety was becoming a priority for all quad bike users.

“Everyone is on board with the rules,” Mr Mahoney said.

“The change doesn’t impact registered vehicles which already had these rules, but it’s good to see everything stepping up,” he said.

“Anything we can do to keep safety a priority is great – any death is one too many.

“Hopefully it will keep new riders safe. It’s about respecting the equipment.”

Quad bikes have evolved to become a key aspect of farming.

“They are great for just getting from farm block to block, because there can be a great distance in between,” Mr Mahoney said.

“They are also used when we do spot spraying and carrying equipment.

“They are a great tool – I don’t know where we’d be without them.”

According to the Queensland Farmers’ Federation, the new rules apply to conditionally registered quad bikes and ATVs being used on Queensland roads and road-related areas.

The changes were put in place to make quad bike and ATV rules more consistent with road rule laws.

Queensland Workplace Health and Safety said current exemptions from wearing a helmet would still apply, provided the vehicle had seatbelts and roll-over protection.

They also had advice for quad bike riders not keen on wearing full-face helmets.

“A major quad bike distributor has developed a helmet specifically for quad bike use that will be available in the coming months.

“The Shark brand helmet is made for Australian conditions and is lightweight, cooler and does not impact vision or hearing.”

Mr Mahoney said he used open-faced helmets on the farm and, while they are uncomfortable and hot, he’d rather be safer.

He hasn’t tried the new Shark helmet yet.

“But it’s supposed to be lightweight so I’m sure it will be welcomed on farms,” Mr Mahoney said.


Proper Motorcycle Lane Positioning

28 Jan , 2017,
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More than just riding between the lines

Being smaller than the majority of road users is both an advantage and disadvantage of riding a motorcycle. However, many riders don’t give much active consideration to how they can apply a motorcycle’s advantages to help mitigate its disadvantages. Thanks to lane positioning options afforded by a bike’s small size, we can take proactive steps to keep those big, lumbering cars from becoming overly intimate with us.

The width of cars pretty much limits them to one place within a lane. If their driver can just keep it between the lines, they’re golden. Motorcycles, thanks to their being narrow, single-track vehicles, have a seemingly infinite number of slices within a lane that they can occupy. However, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll divide the lane into thirds: left, right and center. Think of these as lanes within the lane. Your choice of position within the lane can do two important things.

First, by creating a protective bubble of space around you (a “space cushion” in MSF parlance), you can give yourself more time to react should an inattentive car driver start claiming more than his fair share of the road. If you are traveling in the left lane overtaking a car on your right, you will be less vulnerable if you ride in the left third of the lane when passing through the car’s blind spot. Similarly, if a car is overtaking you, move to the third of the lane opposite that vehicle.

Motorcycle Lane Positons: Beside Pickup

Riding this close to an inattentive driver gives you no time to react. Make sure you have a space cushion.

The second benefit of lane positioning is that you can make yourself more visible to other traffic. If you’re following a car, stay in the center third so that your headlight can’t be missed in a car’s rear view mirror. Do the same when traveling in front of a car, too – but remember that a tail light doesn’t capture a driver’s attention as well as your high beam. When overtaking a car on its left, you can combine space cushioning with lane placement for better visibility.

As you approach the car, make sure you are in the right third of your lane, keeping your headlight in the car’s side mirror. Just before you enter the car’s blind spot, move to the left third of the lane and immediately move back to the right third once you are safely past the car. This keeps you as far as possible from the car when the driver can’t see you, but inserts your motorcycle back into their field of vision as you move in front of them. Your movement from the left to the right third of the lane should also attract the driver’s attention, pointing out that there’s someone new in front of them. As you navigate through traffic, you will constantly need to adjust your lane position to maximize your space cushion and visibility.

Unfortunately, traffic situations don’t always occur in ways that allow you to deal with them individually, as you could in the previous examples. Sometimes, if you pause for a moment, they will naturally separate in the flow of traffic, but in most cases, you’ll have to take what you’re given. In these instances, address the issues simultaneously.

Motorcycle Lane Positons: City Street

Maintain your cushion until you are past the vehicle and can place your bike into the driver’s line of sight.

If cars are both on the left and the right of your intended path of travel, choosing either side of the lane would compromise your space cushion with one of the vehicles. So, you’ll need to split the difference to get the most separation possible from both by passing them in the middle third of the lane. While this is not an ideal situation with either car, it does give you the best option for this scenario.

Make a game out of plotting the route you’d take while observing traffic – even if you’re not riding at the time. After all, isn’t having to constantly interact with your surroundings in an intellectually active way one of the attractions of riding? If you just wanted to sit on your ass traveling from point A to B, you’d be in a car…talking on a cell phone.

Finally, many riders neglect to consider the message they are sending to drivers with their lane position. The sad truth is that, as fewer people use their turn signals, drivers are being forced to make assumptions based on limited information about what the other road users are going to do.

Motorcycle Lane Positons: Wet Road

This rider has placed himself in a position to be more visible to the driver. If the car is overtaking the motorcycle, moving to the right would increase the space cushion as the car passed.

So, consider the signals you send to other road users through your actions within your lane. For example, how you would appear to an oncoming car when you ride in the left third of the left lane as you both approach an intersection? Your lane position could be misinterpreted as preparing to turn left, which could prompt the other driver to initiate his turn right in front of you. Instead, shift to the right third of your lane as you approach the intersection.

Could your shift to the right third of the lane be sending a different message when it occurs on a two-lane road rather than a four-lane one? Moving to the center of your lane on a two lane road would not give you as much of a space cushion, but there is less of a chance that your move will be interpreted as preparing to turn right than if you’d moved all the way over to the right third.

Either way, by moving away from the other car, you’ve increased your space cushion and clearly stated that you have no intention of turning left. Another benefit is that by switching positions, you’ve caused your headlight to waver, drawing the distracted driver’s attention to you.

Lane Positions: Three Motorcycles

As with any other riding skill, the more you use it, the more natural it becomes, so practice on every ride. Gradually, your choices of lane positioning will become intuitive, leaving you to use more of your concentration analyzing the traffic ahead of you – or just having fun with the wind in your face.


Ride To Survive – Ten Tips by motoDNA

13 Jan , 2017,
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Unfortunately for riders, its more perilous than ever riding a motorcycle these days.

Congestion, drivers using mobile phones, tailgating, poor road surface and just a general disregard for fellow human beings by aggressive drivers is making riding a motorcycle around Australian cities just not that much fun.

Here are ten tips to help you Ride To Survive.

1.  Wear Good Gear

Good riding gear is a must and can help hugely in reducing injury should the worst happen. There is a lot of cheap rubbish out there so always buy the best protective clothing and helmet you can afford.

Road Rider Kawasaki Bridge

2.  Attitude Shift

Its not fair that drivers use their mobile phone or tailgate but its important for riders to take responsibility for spotting these hazards as we are the ones that get hurt if it all goes wrong.

3.  Cover Brakes

Sometimes you need to react quickly and having your fingers on your brake lever reduces time trying to find it in an emergency.

4.  Scan

Riders should always be scanning for hazards, whether it is the road condition, mirrors, blind spots, texting drivers, etc . Make sure you are looking far enough ahead too.

5.  Training

As a trainer I see huge student skill gains even after one day of advanced training. Motorcycles are a lifelong journey and you should get regular training to keep your skills sharp. It’s a lot of fun too.


6.  Emergency braking

Emergency braking should be intuitive and practiced regularly. Start with using only the front brake and practice your way to including the rear plus changing down into first gear – just in case you have to make a hasty getaway from the tailgating cagers.

Start off by finding a quiet area with a slight uphill and make sure no one is behind you.

Think of braking in two stages. First setup; with light pressure, this will make the bike pitch forward, transferring vertical load onto the front tyre which increases grip.

Then squeeze the brake lever progressively, until you come to a complete stop. Never snatch at the brakes as this can cause the tyre to skid.

If the tyre begins to skid quickly release the brake and reapply.

15% of motoDNA students have the throttle on when they first practice emergency braking. We recommend you also pull the clutch in when you apply the brake, which negates this common issue.

7.  Road position

Your road position is dynamic which means it should change depending on the risk around you.

Imagine you are at the center of a safety bubble, the dimensions of which change in relation to the proximity of other road users, junctions and the condition and width of the road.

Safety Bubble

This creates a buffer zone between you and hazards, giving you more time to see, be seen and react.

Resist pressure to get pushed along by cars following too closely behind you.

It’s important that you keep that 3-second gap to the car in front so you can react in time to any hazards.

This also makes you more visible to other traffic users and you can also see more clearly around the car in front.

8.  Get To The Front

Bikes are lighter, narrower and more manoeuvrable than other vehicles, which is great for lane filtering. Getting to the front of the traffic at the lights means you can zoom away from the cars and get some space.

9.  Never Trust A Green Light

When you approach any junction you should be scanning for hazards. Never accelerate through the junction, cover your brakes, adjust your road position and scan that a car is not going to run their red light or stop sign and come out in front of you.

10.  Watch Your Speed

If you are fanging around the city in a rush it’s not going to end well for you. Chill out and and reduce your risk by watching your speed.

Practise Makes Perfect

There’s so many ‘experts’ online these days, so its super important to learn the correct techniques and then do lots of practise.

Make a plan, get training and improve your riding.




10 Jan , 2017,
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Commissioner of the Queensland Police Service Ian Stewart gives his personal road safety message to motorcyclists, and what Ridesafely4me means to him.


Who gives way at a roundabout?

5 Jan , 2017,
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Who gives way at a roundabout?

When approaching a roundabout you must give way to all vehicles already on the roundabout.

In some cases on a multi-lane roundabout, it may be necessary to change lanes before exiting. If you are changing lanes you must give way to vehicles in the lane you are moving to.

Video of giving way at roundabouts



Rising road toll drives campaign push

1 Jan , 2017,
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The New Year has heralded a renewed push for greater safety on Queensland roads following a rise in road deaths for 2016 compared to the previous year.

Main Roads and Road Safety Minister Mark Bailey said the rising road toll, and in particular motorcycle fatalities, was alarming.

“As we start a new year, sadly we are reflecting on the terrible carnage on our roads in 2016,” Mr Bailey said.

“The 2016 road toll stands at 250 – which is seven deaths more than for the previous year and 27 deaths more than our lowest figure of 223 lives lost in 2014.

“For the victims and their families, life will never be the same and this is absolutely heartbreaking.”

Mr Bailey said the government was committed to lowering road trauma and distractions like mobile phones and drink driving would be priorities in 2017.

“Taking your eyes of the off the road to look at your phone, even for a moment, means you could miss something critical happening ahead of you.

“Updating your status or checking your snaps isn’t worth risking your life or those of other road users.

“Drink driving continues to contribute to around one in every five people killed and one in every 12 people seriously injured on our roads.

“Next month we will ask the community what they think about tougher responses to drink driving through a discussion paper.”

Mr Bailey said a new Road Safety Action Plan would be released in July.

“This will show Queenslanders exactly what we will be doing over the next two years to make our roads safer,” he said.

“Our goal remains to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our roads, but as we have repeatedly warned that cannot be achieved by government alone.

“Our roads, our vehicles and our drivers have never been safer – the big challenge now is to reach out to individual Queenslanders who continue to take risks or fail to heed road rules.

“I urge drivers, riders, pedestrians, passengers and cyclists to all take ownership of their behaviour and travel safely and considerately.

“I especially plead with every motorcycle rider in Queensland to do the right thing on the road – ride to the speed limit, slow down in wet weather, wear a helmet and protective clothing, obey the road rules and don’t ride under the influence.

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. If we all make a little effort, together we can have a huge impact.”

Mr Bailey said although Christmas and New Year was now over, the Palaszczuk Government would continue to urge motorists to keep safety top of mind when driving over the holiday period and into the future.

“Over the holiday season our “Memories” road safety campaign featured vintage holiday memories and experiences in a powerful message about the enduring impact of road trauma,” he said. “The campaign also encouraged people to get involved through social media by sharing their holiday memories on the Join the Drive website, and encouraging their family and friends to drive safely this holiday season.

“A new version similar in tone will also appear in the lead-up to Australia Day and other long weekends in 2017.

“People continue to enjoy holidays into the New Year and often travel to and from holiday destinations and I want people to remember to drive safely this holiday season.

“There will also be road safety reminders at the Brisbane Heat Big Bash games throughout January at the Gabba.

“Please drive safely and ensure your holiday memories are happy ones, as we all want a great, safe start to 2017.”

Road safety initiatives 2016-17

In February announced $5 million in funding for Round 5 of Community Road Safety Grants.
Held the fourth Safer Roads, Safer Queensland Forum, initiated by the Premier after the horrific Easter road toll in 2015
Road safety campaigns throughout the previous year will continue over the remainder of the school holiday period.
Delivery of road safety programs included:
Improved road infrastructure targeting highest risk locations
Rolling out the ‘Wide Centreline’ highway project
Motorcycle licencing reforms to ensure that testing and licensing requirements adequately prepare novice riders and encourage skill development. The changes include an off-road practical pre-learner training and assessment course, a minimum learner licence period of three months for all learner riders, an extension of the minimum RE (restricted) licence period to two years and stronger emphasis on riding behaviour and higher order skills in Q-Ride courses.
The installation of four new point-to-point speed cameras and 10 red light/speed cameras over the next two years to enhance the current program. (These cameras will be installed at locations that have a history of speed-related crashes or crashes involving motorists disobeying traffic lights.)
The Government is also continuing to address speeding in school zones and will install flashing school zone signs at a further 200 school zones in the next two years.

Editorial Cartoon -- Grand Rapids Press

3 Motorcycle Myths That Won’t Die

29 Dec , 2016,
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I used to write for a Harley-Davidson magazine whose editor secured me the long-term loan of a Heritage Softail from H-D’s press fleet. I rode the wheels off of that old barge, and enjoyed every mile, but I never subscribed to the unwavering dress code of the local Harley riders––a cat-bowl helmet over a do-rag, fingerless gloves: a denim or leather vest studded with ride pins, and leather chaps over jeans so greasy you could wring them out and use the drippings to lube your chain.

One day while out on the Heritage I pulled up to a gas pump behind a guy on a hardtail Shovelhead, costumed appropriately for his subculture. I was wearing my usual gear, an Aerostich Darien jacket and pants, gauntlet gloves, and a full-coverage helmet that cost more than some of the bikes I’d owned. The biker looked me up and down as if he suspected I’d stolen the Heritage, but curiosity won out and we struck up a conversation.

You now how sometimes you get talking to a total stranger and discover you both have a lot in common? This was the opposite of that. Although we were both motorcyclists, we had wildly differing views on riding gear (he thought my helmet––any helmet––was useless at best, dangerous at worst), accessories (he told me to get some loud pipes so people in cars would hear me coming), and riding techniques (he told me never to use the front brake because it’ll flip the bike and kill me––I’m sure he meant it, because his own bike didn’t have a front brake).

Over the years, thanks to encounters like this, I’ve developed the skill of simultaneously smiling, nodding, and grinding my teeth, mostly because the same old horsecrap myths about motorcycling keep popping up like meth-addicted prairie dogs. The damn things just won’t die, and even though I really should chill out and let people be as stupid as they want, I just can’t, because stupidity is contagious, and there’s always a chance that someone who doesn’t know any better will catch a lethal dose of it from some grizzled old fathead in a filthy Sturgis T-shirt who thinks “I had to lay ‘er down” is a legitimate excuse for crashing instead of an admission that he’s a terrible rider.

Bear with me, then, as I stick a pin in some of the most odious and persistent moto-myths in the sport.

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Motorcycle tire mold release


Are new tires really coated with a mold release during the manufacturing process?

Tire Mold Release

This mythical substance is often blamed for the crashes suffered by riders who have just had new tires installed, ride out of the dealership, and promptly land on their asses in the first corner they come to. It’s supposed to be a slippery solution applied to the mold before the tire goes in for the final cure to keep it from sticking to the mold when it’s opened.

The problem with this myth is that tires don’t stick to the molds in the first place. Mike Manning, Director of Marketing for Dunlop says, “We don’t spray the molds with anything. The tires come out of the mold just fine on their own.” Kevin Hunley, who is the Senior Manager of Motorcycle and Kart products of Bridgestone Americas, echoed that, saying, “There is no need for any type of mold release.”

But something must be causing all those new-tire crashes, right? In fact, there is a reason so many riders biff it on fresh rubber, but it has little to do with the rubber itself.

A new tire needs to be broken in gently, but not because you need to scuff off any slippery stuff on the tread surface. “The reason they need to be broken in is due to a chemical product,” said Manning. “All the different chemicals in it cure in the mold, but once they go on the bike the first few heat cycles finish that curing process.”

And that’s not all that needs to be broken in. As tires wear, their profiles change—typically the rear flattens in the middle and the front wears on the sides––and your reflexes adjust to those changes over the course of the tire’s life. When you get new tires with their nice round profiles, your bike’s handling changes instantly, but your reflexes don’t. You roll out of the service department on your new rubber, flick the bike into the first corner just the way you’ve been doing it for the last several thousand miles, and boom––you’re on your head.

As Manning said, “You were used to riding on your old tires they way they were, but when you get new tires the profile’s different. You have to get used to it. It’s more breaking you in than the tire.”

Hunley agreed, and cited Bridgestone’s website: In order for your new tire(s) to provide optimum performance, tires should be ridden very cautiously for the first 100 miles in order for the tread surface to be “Scuffed-In” and work properly. Directly after new tires are mounted, sudden acceleration, maximum braking and hard cornering must be avoided. This will allow the rider to adjust to the “Feel” and handling characteristics of the new tire and for the new tire to be “Scuffed-In” correctly in order to achieve optimum grip level.

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Motorcycle helmet laws


Since the vertical speed at which your head hits the pavement matters far more than the horizontal speed you’re moving when it happens, wearing a helmet seems to be a smart thing to do.


Oh sweet Jeebus, where do I even begin with this? Look, if you don’t want to wear a helmet, don’t, I guess, although in some states it’s not really up to you. But if you insist on exercising your right as an American to do demonstrably stupid things out of sheer stubbornness (aka “Because I can, that’s why”) at least have the guts to admit it instead of telling people the reason you’re doing it is because helmets don’t work, like the guy who once told me helmets are tested to a maximum speed of 13 mph, so how can you expect them to protect you at highway speeds?

The best way to tell a lie is to season it with a dash of truth. There’s some truth to that 13 mph figure, but it’s not the whole story. For that I turned to Dave Thom, who worked with the late, great Harry Hurt on the first comprehensive study of motorcycle safety ever conducted in the U.S., Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, often appropriately called the Hurt Report.

Thom’s CV is impressive: motorcycle-accident research assistant and associate (1977-1981); research associate and later the laboratory director of the University of Southern California’s Head Protection Research Laboratory (1981-1998); general and senior program manager of the Head Protection Research Laboratory of Southern California (1998-2003); and currently a senior consultant specializing in protective headgear, safety, and research at Collision and Injury Dynamics, Inc. So, yeah, he knows something about helmets.

I once asked Thom about that 13 mph figure. “It’s an important and often misunderstood point,” he said. It turns out that 13 mph—13.4 mph, if you want to get picky about it––is the terminal velocity of an object dropped from six feet, or about the maximum height of the head of a rider seated on a motorcycle. “If you pick something up and drop it from six feet, it’ll hit the ground going 13.4 mph.”

OK, but what if I’m going 60 mph when I crash?

“The speed on your speedometer is very seldom any indication of how hard you’re going to hit your head,” Thom said. “The only situation where it is an indication is if you hit a vertical object, like a bridge abutment. Then your speedometer speed is very important.” But in most motorcycle accidents, the rider’s head falls more or less straight down and hits the ground at 13.4 mph or less. “We found way back in the Hurt studies that the typical impact on a head at the 90th percentile was less than the DOT impact speed of 13.4 mph.”

In other words, the vertical speed at which your head hits the pavement matters far more than the horizontal speed you’re moving when it happens. If you want a demonstration of this, Thom said, just turn on your TV and watch a motorcycle road race. “If you’ve ever seen a guy fall off at 120, they almost always get up even though their forward speed was huge. They fall off, and they very likely hit their head at least once, but they have that six-foot fall––“ much less in the case of many road racers whose elbows are practically skimming the track when they bail “––which is what we test helmets at.”

No safety device works 100 percent of the time––not helmets, air bags, seat belts, parachutes, or condoms––but using them increases the odds in your favor. If you disagree, fine. It’s that sort of keen analytical thinking that keep Las Vegas casinos open, and EMTs working double shifts on sunny weekends. Just don’t try to convince me or anyone else that head-butting the highway without a helmet is safer than with one.

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Loud pipes save lives


Unbaffled straight pipes like these can be annoyingly loud in traffic. Are they really making the rider more noticeable to drivers who aren’t paying attention?

Loud Pipes Save Lives

This one has even other motorcyclists shaking their heads in disbelief. The idea is that despite the uncontested fact that many car drivers are morons––so busy texting, yelling at the kids in the backseat, and yacking on their cell phones that they run over motorcycles and don’t even slow down to see what that thud was––they will respond to a low rumbling sound coming from somewhere outside the car and immediately think, “Ooh, there must be a motorcycle nearby. I must set aside all distractions and watch out for the rider’s welfare.”

That’s a nice theory, but it crumbles in the face of reality. Most of the threats to motorcycles, such as left-turning cars, oncoming traffic wandering over the double yellow lines, and sudden lane changes, first appear in front of the bike or just to the side, well within the rider’s immediate field of vision. Loud pipes, I’ll thank you to note, are pointed 180 degrees away from these potential accident causes. It’s like taking all the STOP signs in town and turning them around so you only see them in your mirrors after you zoom through the intersection.

Noise isn’t actually all that good at alerting people to your presence, anyway. Ask firefighters, EMTs, and ambulance drivers how many times other vehicles fail to yield to a blaring siren in traffic. Some of that is due to sheer stupidity, but it’s also because when you first hear a faint siren in the distance, it’s damned hard to tell where it’s coming from, and damned near impossible to hear at all if the car radio is playing loudly. You usually get a clear idea of where the emergency vehicle is only when you see the flashing lights.

I almost broke Google looking for a large-scale, objective, scientifically conducted, peer-reviewed study showing that users of loud pipes have a lower mortality rate compared to other motorcyclists. I found a lot of studies on the effectiveness of helmets, and bright clothing, but most of what I found regarding loud pipes consisted of anecdotal evidence that wouldn’t stand up in food court. “He was going to turn left in front of me, but I revved the engine and he stopped.” How can you be sure that’s what prevented an accident? Maybe the driver saw your headlight, or a glint of sunlight bouncing off chrome, or just decided there wasn’t time to turn before you got to the intersection.

Relying on loud pipes to alert car drivers to your presence is a passive strategy that hands responsibility for your safety and well-being to the very people you fervently believe are too stupid and inattentive to share the road with you. You might as well set your hair on fire, close your eyes, and step off the curb into traffic yelling, “Please don’t hit me!” Actually, that might work better than loud pipes, because at least the fire would attract attention; there’s plenty of credible data showing that visual stimuli like auxiliary lights and high-visibility riding gear are effective at getting drivers to notice you.

Defensive riding is every rider’s best shot at getting home in one piece. Stay out of other drivers’ blind spots. Slow down approaching intersections. Create and maintain a safety buffer in traffic by following at a safe distance and waving tailgaters by. Leave yourself room to escape if the sh*t comes down. Put a plug in those pipes and learn to ride defensively.