MOTOR VEHICLES (MOTOR BIKE DRIVER LICENSING) AMENDMENT BILL

Thursday 12 November, 2020

Introduction and First Reading

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (16:00): Obtained leave and introduced a bill for an act to amend the Motor Vehicles Act 1959. Read a first time.

Second Reading

The Hon. V.A. TARZIA (Hartley—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services) (16:00): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time

The Motor Vehicles (Motor Bike Driver Licensing) Amendment Bill 2020 amends the Motor Vehicles Act 1959 to enhance the Graduated Licensing Scheme (GLS) and improve the safety of novice motorcyclists, their passengers and other road users. Motorcyclists have a higher risk of death or serious injury than all other road users. On average in the past five years, 2015 to 2019, motorcycles accounted for around 4 per cent of all registered vehicles, but motorcyclists accounted for around 15 per cent of all lives lost on South Australian roads and 19 per cent of serious injuries.

In the case of novice motorcycle riders, data for the 16 to 19-year-old age group shows that over the last five years, 2015 to 2019, the trend in young rider serious casualties increased by an average of about 12.5 per cent per year. This is in contrast to the trend in young driver serious casualties, which has decreased by an average of 7.7 per cent over the same period. One strategy to reduce this road trauma is through an improved GLS for motorcycle riders.

A GLS is a staged approach to obtaining a full licence, with learners commencing in relatively low-risk situations. As the novice grows in knowledge, skills and on-road experience, restrictions are gradually lifted as they progress through to an intermediate stage and then to a full licence. The GLS for car drivers was strengthened in 2010 and 2014. In 2010, the minimum age for solo driving on a provisional licence was raised to 17 years. This is likely to have reduced the casualty crashes involving young drivers, as research shows that the older a young person is when they are licensed the safer they are when driving and riding unsupervised.

In 2014, the provisional (intermediate) stage was increased from two to three years along with the introduction of passenger and night driving restrictions. Such restrictions help to keep young people out of high-risk situations on the road. In 2018, the University of Adelaide's Centre for Automotive Safety Research (CASR) released the report 'Recommendations for a graduated licensing system for motorcyclists in South Australia', outlining key elements that could be included in an enhanced GLS for motorcycle riders in South Australia, aimed at reducing the crash involvement of novice riders.

Community feedback was sought on the recommendations via a consultation process with individuals and stakeholders and indicated support for most of CASR's recommendations. More recently, key stakeholders were provided with an opportunity to review the draft amendment bill, giving relevant parties an opportunity to make comments relative to their areas of expertise. A total of 107 stakeholders were invited to comment, and responses were received from a variety of road safety stakeholders, including motorcycling riding groups, motorcycle industry representatives and motoring bodies, as well as state and local government.

The measures included in this bill give effect to a number of recommendations from the CASR report and are supported by key stakeholders. In addition, the bill more closely aligns the requirements for novice motorcycle riders with this successful motor vehicle GLS approach to provide more riding experience under protective conditions and reduce the incidence of crashes involving novice riders.

While some stakeholders suggested further improvements to motorcycle safety should be considered, this amendment package is focused on the licensing system and does not extend to rider training and assessment. A review of South Australia's training and assessment program for motorcycle riders is currently underway by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport.

The bill includes the following provisions to improve the safety of novice motorcyclists. The bill raises the minimum age to obtain a motorcycle learner's permit from 16 to 18 years of age. Exemptions will apply for those who are 17 years of age and hold a provisional licence for another class of vehicle, or for a person who is 16 or 17 years of age and resides in a prescribed locality to attend tertiary education, vocational education or training, for work purposes or to participate in a sporting activity.

Raising the age to obtain a motorcycle learner's permit from 16 years to 18 years of age is supported by research, which has found that younger riders, whether new or fully licensed, have more crashes per distance travelled than older riders, suggesting age itself, irrespective of experience, is an important determinant of crash risk.

Between 2015 and 2019 there was a total of 324 riders aged 16 to 19 involved in a casualty crash. Of these, seven riders lost their lives and a further 66 sustained serious injuries. An improved motorcycle GLS will be beneficial for novice motorcyclists and should contribute to a safer cohort of fully licensed riders once they have successfully completed the GLS.

Under the bill, a person aged under 18 years who holds a current provisional driver's licence will be eligible to apply for a motorcycle learner's permit in recognition that the prospective rider has already gained experience in the road and traffic environment while in the comparative safety of a car. However, unlike the Queensland model, this provision does not mandate that a person is required to obtain a car licence before being able to ride a motorcycle.

An exemption is also available for young people living in regional South Australia in recognition of the more limited transport services available in those areas and the need for young people to participate in training and employment opportunities. The bill allows a person who is at least 16 years of age and who lives in a prescribed locality to be issued with a restricted motorcycle learner's permit to allow them to travel from their place of residence to tertiary education, vocational education and training, for work purposes or to participate in a sporting activity.

The exemption does not extend to students travelling to secondary school—that is, high school—as they are already getting to school by other transport means prior to turning 16, and can continue to do so. 'Prescribed locality' is intended to cover regional South Australia and will be defined as a list of postcodes contained either in the regulations or by Gazette notice as appropriate. The postcodes will be consistent with those areas defined as District 2 under the Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance scheme, making it easy for applicants to identify eligibility for a restricted learner's permit.

Similar to the exemptions available for the passenger and night driving restrictions for young drivers, it is proposed that the onus would be on the learner's permit holder to prove they are riding a motorcycle in accordance with their exemption, should they be questioned by South Australia Police at the roadside. Riding contrary to these restrictions will result in an expiation fee and demerit points that will be prescribed in the regulations. It is intended the expiation fee and demerit points will align with other comparable offences that apply to learner and P1 drivers that currently carry a fine of $382 and three demerit points.

The bill introduces a requirement for a person to hold a motorcycle learner's permit for a minimum of 12 months. Currently, learner riders holding a car licence classification do not have a minimum period they are required to hold a motorcycle learner's permit. To provide novice riders with more riding experience under protective learner conditions, the bill requires a person to hold a motorcycle learner's permit for a minimum of one year before being eligible to apply for an R-DATE (intermediate) licence classification, irrespective of any other licence held by that person. This will apply to new and existing learner's permit holders upon commencement of the new provisions.

The bill introduces a restriction for learner riders from carrying a pillion passenger or a sidecar passenger, including a qualified supervising driver, and from towing trailers. The act currently allows a person on a motorcycle learner's permit to carry a pillion passenger or a passenger in a sidecar provided that the passenger is acting as qualified supervising driver. It is not a requirement under the act for the holder of a motorcycle learner's permit to be accompanied by a qualified supervising driver, as is the case for the holder of a learner's permit for a car.

Due to the inexperience of the rider, the balance distribution while riding and possible distraction to the rider that a pillion passenger may pose, the bill no longer allows any pillion passenger to ride with the rider on a motorcycle learner's permit. This includes a passenger in a sidecar. Therefore, any person accompanying a learner rider will have to ride on a separate motorcycle. As towing a trailer may increase the risk of a crash, this practice will also be prohibited during the learner's permit stage.

The bill introduces a night-time riding restriction between midnight and 5am for all learner riders aged under 25 years, irrespective of whether that person also holds a P2 or a full driver's licence for another classification of vehicle. Currently, night-time riding restrictions are limited to riders aged under 25 years who hold only a motorcycle learner's permit or a P1 licence. The bill extends this provision and applies a night-time riding restriction between the hours of midnight and 5am to all motorcycle learner's permit holders aged under 25 years.

However, as per existing provisions, a motorcycle learner's permit holder will be exempt if the person meets the prescribed circumstances listed in schedule 2 of the act. This includes when riding for employment, education, or between home and an activity to participate in sports, artistic, charitable, religious or scientific activities provided by an organisation, association or club. As with the existing provisions relating to the motor vehicle GLS, no formal application for an exemption will be required; however, the rider would need to carry evidence they were riding within the exemption grounds.

A person issued with a restricted motorcycle learner's permit will be restricted to riding only for tertiary education, vocational education and training, work purposes, or to participate in a sporting activity at all times. Broader exemptions from the night-time riding restrictions (as referenced above) would not apply to the holder of a restricted learner's permit.

The bill introduces a restriction on riding only an automatic motorcycle if tested on one. RiderSafe courses currently allow participants to be trained and assessed on a motorcycle with an automatic transmission. As these courses include teaching and assessing a person's ability to smoothly take off and change gears, some students see the option to ride a bike with an automatic transmission as an easy way to pass. They are then able to ride a bike with a manual transmission on the road, which poses a risk to both the rider and other road users as they have not undergone the proper training, nor had the ability to practise gear changes in a controlled environment.

The bill will ensure that those tested at RiderSafe on a bike with an automatic transmission will be restricted to riding only bikes with an automatic transmission. Similar provisions already exist in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory.

The bill raises the minimum age to obtain an R-DATE (intermediate) licence classification from 17 to 19 years of age. This will enable novice riders to gain more riding experience under protective conditions and will apply to new and existing motorcycle learner's permit holders upon commencement. Existing learner riders who are aged under 18 years will not be restricted from where they can ride, nor required to obtain a provisional licence in order to maintain their existing learner's permit, although it will require them to ride under protective conditions for longer before progressing to an R-DATE classification.

At the same time, I intend to amend the Motor Vehicles Regulations 2010 to extend the minimum time a person must hold an R-DATE licence classification from one year to two years. This will require the rider to continue riding a lower powered Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme motorcycle for an additional year before being eligible to progress to an unrestricted R-licence classification, at which point they may ride a higher powered motorcycle.

The bill introduces a restriction for the holder of a driver's licence with an R-DATE (intermediate) licence classification to have zero blood alcohol concentration while riding a motorcycle, irrespective of whether that person also holds a full car or higher classification of licence. Alcohol consumption and riding a motorcycle is a dangerous combination. It is reflected in crashes. Alcohol impairs skill and decision-making and can increase confidence and aggression. Currently, the holder of a full car licence is able to ride a motorcycle on an R-DATE classification with a blood alcohol concentration of less than .05 grams in 100 millilitres of blood. The bill requires all R-DATE motorcycle riders to have a zero blood alcohol concentration whenever they are riding.

This will apply to new and existing R-DATE holders upon commencement of the new laws. A zero blood alcohol concentration already applies to the holder of a motorcycle learner's permit, all provisional licence holders and some other driver licence classifications. This bill further clarifies that a person must hold either a motorcycle learner's permit or a licence endorsed with R-DATE (intermediate) or R (full motorcycle class) to allow them to ride a motorcycle.

An anomaly in the legislation allows a person to ride a motorcycle under learner's conditions without holding a licence endorsed with R-DATE or R, or a motorcycle learner's permit, if they hold another class of licence. To resolve this issue, the act is being amended to clarify a person must hold either a motorcycle learner's permit or a licence endorsed with R-DATE or R to allow them to ride a motorcycle. This will address an enforcement issue that has been raised by SAPOL.

To maximise the impact of the proposed initiatives and create an immediate safety benefit for novice riders, the new offences related to towing, passenger, night-time riding and alcohol restrictions will apply to all new and existing learner's permit holders and holders of an R-DATE classification as appropriate upon commencement of the new laws. While amending the licensing provisions under this act, the bill also takes the opportunity to broaden the provisions relating to testing and evidence provided to the Registrar of Motor Vehicles (the registrar) to allow for future innovation and to better meet customer needs and expectations.

The bill amends provisions relating to the learner theory test and the hazard perception test to allow these tests to be conducted by a method approved by the registrar. To obtain a learner's permit in South Australia, a person must undertake a theory test. Further, to obtain a licence, a person must undertake a hazard perception test.

Sections 79 and 79A of the act require an applicant to produce a certificate signed by a tester, as defined in the act. Options to improve service delivery associated with the licensing process include the potential for these tests to be provided via an online platform. The amendments within the bill allow for changes in the delivery of such tests into the future. Similarly, the bill amends provisions relating to the production of a logbook to allow the registrar to be satisfied a person has met the prescribed requirements relating to the applicant's driving experience by providing evidence, other than a written document/hard copy (i.e. electronically via an app on a phone), into the future.

Holders of a learner's permit for a car are required to complete a logbook demonstrating that they have met the minimum required supervised driving hours before they may progress to a provisional licence. Section 79A of the act requires the applicant to produce to the registrar a logbook that is approved by the registrar and has been completed in accordance with the instructions contained within the logbook.

To allow for future options for demonstrating that supervised driving hours have been completed, the bill allows the registrar to be satisfied by other evidence (which could be accepted electronically) that the applicant for a provisional licence has satisfied the prescribed requirements related to the applicant's driving experience. Removing the limitations around physical attendance at customer service centres and paper-based models will provide greater flexibility around service delivery models. This supports the government's move to digital first and will improve service availability in the future, particularly for those in rural and remote areas of South Australia.

The data is very clear. Young motorcyclists have a much higher risk of being involved in a tragedy on the road than they should have. We need to stop the carnage on our roads and we need to protect motorcyclists. We need to protect families as much as possible from that devastating knock at the door that SAPOL officers are all too often forced to make after a fatal crash. We need to implement a better licensing scheme so that novice motorcyclists gain the experience and the training that they need to be safe road users.

The government's bill will deliver a strengthened graduated licensing scheme for motorcyclists and will make our roads safer for all users. The Marshall Liberal government is dedicated to improving road safety for South Australians. The government looks forward to bipartisan support from the Labor opposition and the crossbench in the other place so that these important reforms can be enacted without delay. I commend this bill to the house and I seek leave to insert the explanation of clauses in Hansard without my reading it.


Leave granted.