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View the latest statistics on motorcycle accidents, as well as Australian perceptions of motorcycle safety in Budget Direct’s latest survey.

17 November | See disclaimer

Quick facts

  • Only 36% of surveyed Australians know the difference between lane splitting and filtering
  • 63% of motorcyclists surveyed believe that motorists should be more tolerant of motorcyclists
  • Government data revealed that Brisbane had more motorcycle fatalities between 2011-2020 than any other LGA in Australia
  • 31% of Australians in our survey believe that motorcycles can evade police radars/cameras.

1.0. Australian motorcycle laws

1.1. Protective gear requirements

In Australia, motorcyclists, and their passengers (including sidecar passengers) are required to wear an approved helmet that complies with Australian (AS1698 or AS/NZ1698) or European standards (UN ECE 22.05 or 22.06), with a label or mark on the outside of the helmet indicating compliance with the standard.[1]

Helmet visors and goggles are the only forms of adequate protection from the weather, insects, and stones thrown up by other vehicles. Under Australian standard (AS1609), all visors and goggles should be shatterproof, equipped with clear lenses for use at night, and clean and unscratched.[2]

In Queensland, the Government recommends that motorcycle jackets, gloves, pants, and boots should all conform to European Standards and carry a ‘CE’ symbol. However, they are not legal requirements.[1]

1.2. Guide to lane filtering and splitting

Lane filtering

Lane filtering is when a motorcycle rider moves past stationary or slow-moving vehicles safely at a speed of 30km/h or less.

Lane splitting

Lane splitting is when a rider moves past vehicles at an unsafe speed of more than 30km/h.

2.0. Government-sourced motorcycle fatality statistics

The Australian Government has released detailed accounts of all motorcycle fatalities from 2011 until the end of 2020.[3]

2.1. Motorcycle fatalities in Australia

From 2011-2020 there has been a total of 2081 motorcycle fatalities in Australia. While this number has been trending downwards over the last decade, further initiatives are required to reduce the number of motorcycle fatalities overall.

2.2 Motorcycle fatalities per road type (2016-2020)

Here’s the purpose of each road type:

  • Local Road – A street primarily used to provide direct access to adjoining land.
  • Arterial Road – A high-capacity urban road or main road. The primary function of an arterial road is to deliver traffic from collector roads to freeways and between main centres.
  • Sub-arterial Road – These roads carry traffic between industrial, commercial, and residential areas.
  • National or State Highway – These are usually roads that are either numbered or maintained by a sub-national state or province. State highways connect regions within the state whereas national highways connect states within Australia.
  • Collector Road – Also known as a distributor road, this is a low-to-moderate capacity road that serves to move traffic from local streets to main roads.
  • Undermined – A road that is destroyed at its base or foundations.
  • Pedestrian Thoroughfare – An open walking space only used by pedestrians and no other forms of traffic including cars, cycles, and scooters.

2.3. Motorcycle fatalities per age group

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
0-16 5 6 4 2 3 6 3 2 2 3
17-25 47 43 38 41 33 46 43 28 43 29
26-39 55 70 64 57 60 63 48 57 56 60
40-64 85 95 84 79 95 119 93 82 88 84
65-74 6 8 17 8 11 11 20 20 18 8
75+ 4 1 6 4 1 4 4 2 3 4

The 40–64-year-old age group had the highest number of fatalities, peaking in 2016 with 119 motorcycle fatalities in one year. Motorcycle crashes involving riders over 40 are more likely to occur in non-urban or regional locations where there are higher levels of leisure or recreation.[4]

2.4. Motorcycle fatalities per state

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
NSW 51 61 71 59 67 67 59 54 68 68
Qld 45 60 45 37 54 62 50 43 45 54
Vic 49 41 41 30 30 56 38 38 43 26
WA 28 34 25 43 21 39 25 28 27 26
SA 21 15 12 11 11 8 24 10 17 19
Tas 3 5 11 3 10 10 11 8 7 6

New South Wales consistently experienced the highest number of motorcycle fatalities out of all states from 2011-2020.

2.5. Highest 10 LGAs for motorcycle fatalities in Australia (2011-20)

Rank LGA Fatalities
1st Brisbane (Qld) 18
2nd Moreton Bay (QLD) 15
3rd Singleton (NSW) 15
4th Logan (QLD) 13
4th Tweed (NSW) 13
5th Liverpool (NSW) 12
6th Lake Macquarie (NSW) 11
6th Yarra Ranges (Vic) 11
7th Joondalup (SA) 10
7th Salisbury (SA) 10
7th Tamworth Regional (NSW) 10
7th Unincorporated ACT (ACT) 10

Nearly 60% of these LGAs are located in regional areas. This is consistent with the highest number of fatalities by age (40-64) being most likely to occur in regional areas.[4]

As the highest-ranking LGA, Brisbane is a high-risk area for vulnerable riders. As a metropolitan area riders under 40 are more likely to experience motorcycle fatalities due to higher levels of daily commuting.[4]

3.0. Motorcycle misconceptions survey results

3.1. Do you own a motorcycle?

Australia-wide
State
Age
Gender

Less than 25% of Australians surveyed own a motorcycle. Those who do own a motorcycle are more likely to be in a younger age group, whereas older respondents are less likely to own a motorcycle.

Male respondents are also more likely to own a motorcycle than female respondents. Also, Western Australia had a higher rate of motorcycle ownership than any other recorded state.

3.2. Do you know the difference between lane splitting and filtering?

Australia-wide
State
Age
Gender
Owns Motorcycle

While only 36% of Australians surveyed know the difference between lane splitting and filtering, nearly 75% of those who own a motorcycle know the difference between the two.

Conversely, those who responded as not owning a motorcycle were far less likely to know the difference between the two motorcycle manoeuvres.

3.3. Do you think motorcyclists can avoid police radars/cameras (e.g speed cameras)?

Australia-wide
State
Age
Owns Motorcycle

Overwhelmingly, nearly 70% of Australians surveyed don’t think that motorcyclists can avoid police radars/cameras. Interestingly, those surveyed as owning motorcycles are more likely to think they can avoid police radars.

3.4. Where do you think most motorcycle accidents occur?

Australia-wide
State
Age
Gender
Owns Motorcycle

Just over 25% of Australians surveyed think that suburban streets are where the most motorcycle accidents occur whereas over 30% think that most accidents occur on main roads.

These responses align with government data (as seen in 2.2) where the highest number of motorcycle fatalities occurred on local roads, followed by high-capacity arterial roads (urban main roads).

It seems that male respondents (30.9%) are also far more concerned about suburban streets than female respondents (21.2%). While motorcyclists are more worried about highways (29.5%) than main roads (27.3%), probably due to the high risk they pose to vulnerable drivers.

3.5. Which of the following Personal Protective Equipment do you think is legally required for motorcyclists to wear?

Australia-wide
State
Gender
Owns Motorcycle
Helmet Enclosed boots Jacket Long pants Eye Protection Gloves
New South Wales 95.1% 61.4% 47.7% 46.8% 47.7% 45.5%
Victoria 95.1% 63.8% 58.1% 58.9% 52.8% 57.0%
Queensland 97.9% 56.5% 44.1% 39.8% 43.6% 41.9%
Western Australia 91.4% 57.1% 48.6% 48.6% 47.6% 43.8%
South Australia 96.2% 62.8% 50.0% 50.0% 50.0% 50.0%
Tasmania 100.0% 57.1% 57.1% 45.7% 57.1% 57.1%
Helmet Enclosed boots Jacket Long pants Eye Protection Gloves
Male 94.6% 52.4% 44.0% 39.3% 39.3% 42.7%
Female 96.1% 66.4% 54.6% 55.3% 54.3% 51.6%
Helmet Enclosed boots Jacket Long pants Eye Protection Gloves
Yes 89.4% 55.5% 48.9% 45.4% 43.6% 44.9%
No 97.3% 62% 50.6% 49.7% 49.6% 48.9%

A majority (95.5%) of Australians surveyed know that helmets are legally required for motorcyclists. Surprisingly, over 10% of motorcyclists didn’t know that a helmet is legally required to ride a motorcycle.

There seemed to be some uncertainty around other PPE. In contrast, most motorcyclists surveyed still feel that all of these protective elements are still required.

Female respondents are far more likely to think that added PPE is legally required than their male counterparts. This may be because women tend to be more risk-averse than men.

Out of all the states Tasmanians have the most conservative views around PPE, with the highest safety expectations.

3.6. Which age group do you think are most at risk of having a motorcycle accident?

Australia-wide
Age
Owns Motorcycle

All age groups came to the consensus that 18–24-year old’s are most at risk of having a motorcycle accident.

3.7. Which of the following statements do you agree with?

Australia-wide
State
Age
Gender
Owns Motorcycle

As expected, motorcyclists feel that motorists need to be more tolerant. Even though only 23% of Australians surveyed own motorcycles, over two-thirds of this group believe that motorists need to be more tolerant of motorcyclists.

The data shows that there’s a correlation between the age of the respondent and their tolerance of motorcyclists. This may be due to older generations’ frustration at loud revving from motorcycles and lane filtering, especially during congested traffic.

3.8. What frustrates you the most about motorcyclists?

Australia-wide
Age
Owns Motorcycle
Loud revving of bikes Lane filtering, especially during congested traffic They exhibit dangerous behaviour towards motorists They are obnoxious They obstruct pedestrians when parked
18-24 61.2% 36.7% 46.9% 24.5% 16.3%
25-34 53.6% 43.5% 51.7% 31.4% 16.9%
35-44 59.9% 47.9% 51.2% 22.3% 16.9%
45-54 56.8% 52.3% 43.7% 18.1% 21.6%
55-64 64.9% 53.6% 45.7% 13.9% 14.6%
65+ 66.4% 48.3% 45.6% 12.1% 17.4%
Loud revving of bikes Lane filtering, especially during congested traffic They exhibit dangerous behaviour towards motorists They are obnoxious They obstruct pedestrians when parked
Yes 51.5% 51.1% 53.3% 27.3% 19.8%
No 62.4% 47.5% 46.2% 18.6% 17.0%

*Respondents could select more than one option, meaning answers may not add up to 100%.

Older Australians aged 55-64 seem to be the most frustrated by lane filtering. Lane filtering remains the second most common annoyance for those without motorcycles, even though only 24.5% of these people know what it is (seen in section 3.2).

Motorcyclists, on the other hand, are most annoyed by dangerous behaviours from other riders that are directed towards motorists.

Looking to learn more?

Find more information in Motorcycle road positioning explained.

References

[1] Queensland Government, 2021, Motorcycle road rules.
[2] Mylicence, 2021, The Rider’s Handbook Protective gear.
[3] Bitre, 2021, Australian Road Deaths Database.
[4] National Road Safety Strategy, 2018, Motorcyclist safety.

Disclaimer:This survey was conducted by Pure Profile on behalf of Budget Direct in October 2021. The survey was conducted online with a total sample size of 1,000. All other data on this website is the latest available from the named sources in this references above and was obtained in November 2021. Auto & General Services Pty Ltd does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the data and accepts no liability whatsoever arising from or connected in any way to the use or reliance upon this data.