Queensland Transport and Main Roads (TMR) recently outlined changes to motorcycling licencing laws that will come into effect in October 2016. These form part of their ‘Motorcycle Safety Initiative’ which TMR have indicated were developed considering feedback provided by Queenslanders through the Motorcycle Licencing Discussion Paper and accompanying online survey on the Get Involved website. Other more comprehensive research and findings by organisations such as CARRS-Q were also taken strongly into consideration.
Some of these changes relate to the duration of different licences, but of high interest to us at #ridesafely4me is the proposed changes with respect to required training courses at different stages of licensing. This is because through social media and face-to-face conversations, we regularly hear riders make statements such as “It’s too easy to get your licence” and “Q-Ride doesn’t teach you enough”.
Inspector Pete Flanders of the Queensland Police Road Policing Command is what I consider to be an exceptionally experienced motorcyclist. Not only has Pete been riding bikes for 34 years, he has also been heavily involved in training motorcyclists from novice all the way to advanced courses for 29 years. This training includes through QPS motorcycling courses, as well as a number of years as the owner/operator of the largest privately run motorcycle training company in the state – employing 11 instructors full time. He was also a voluntary instructor for the TMR motorcycle training program for about seven years.
Because of this experience, Pete was one of the people called upon along with other industry experts to consult with TMR on exactly what changes could improve safety for motorcyclists.
I asked Pete if he would be prepared to let us know his thoughts on the pending changes. We’d like to thank Pete very much for his time in giving us the following response:
“In essence, the current Q-ride course was found wanting as it was almost an entirely skills based course and was not developmental as it progressed from learner to open license. In fact students basically did the same thing for each license, just on a bigger bike.
The new courses build on each other in a logical and staged manner to where the unrestricted course has a major focus on the headspace of riding not just a reiteration of skills. The collective courses have a significant amount of road riding and self-reflection through group interaction. They are flexible in their delivery style whilst having a reasonably strict curriculum base ensuring all students are delivered a product of high standard.
There is a program of instructor training planned such that all service delivery organisations will be trained to the same standard and will know how to deliver the training in a professional manner.
The group designing the training encompassed TMR officers skilled in program development, representatives from training organisations to give a feet on the ground perspective, RACQ and me from the QPS. The group sought to get the very best product possible influenced by the mandate dictated by the high level of motorcycle crashes over the past number of years.
In my view this is a huge step forward in motorcycle safety in Queensland”
According to TMR there will be three mandatory courses prior to obtaining an unrestricted licence. All these courses are designed to work in an integrated manner. All courses will include theory, demonstration and coaching and practical application of learned skills. Feedback, self-reflection and higher order thinking will all be key elements of the program.
- The Pre-Learner Course will ensure riders have the skills necessary to ride a motorcycle on the road, as well as instil an understanding that learning is a continual process. This aims to encourage appropriate attitudes towards safety with the aim of reducing the likelihood of rider injury as a result of crashes.
- The Restricted Licence Course will ensure riders have progressed since the Pre Learner Course, and now possess the skills necessary to ride unaccompanied on the road. It will be competency based, and riders will be required to demonstrate they are competent in each of the competency areas. These will include being able to demonstrate riders can safely manage both routine and more complex riding situations.
- The Unrestricted Licence Course will not only reinforce the skills learned in earlier courses, but will also further develop the higher order cognitive skills as well as strategies to manage risk ie both hazard perception and risk taking behaviour – particularly as they relate to larger motorbikes. Once again this course will require riders to be assessed as competent in a series of identified competencies as they relate to both routine and more complex riding situations.
Of course, it is extremely important to remember that passing all three of these courses qualifies you only as a competent rider. Too many people make the mistake of believing that obtaining an unrestricted licence means that you are a good or even a great rider.
To progress from being a competent rider to a better rider takes experience and of course we strongly advocate ongoing learning through attendance at advanced courses run by reputable training instructors.
If you would like to find out more about TMR’s Motorcycle Safety Initiatives, you can visit their website here.