Government wasting millions on failed motorbike training

The New Zealand government must bring in tough motorbike awareness tests immediately, says car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson says successive governments have been ‘conned’ into believing that advanced rider training would reduce the number of motorbike crashes.

"In fact, most studies show that advanced driver and rider training, at best, makes no difference. In some cases this training actually raises the road toll, because riders become over-confident. The 2018 motorcycle road toll is already higher than the whole of the last year, yet the government continues to fund these failed programmes" [1]

Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says that, instead of funding failed training campaigns, the government needs to prevent unsafe riders from using motorbikes.

"All motorcycle riders should be put through a far tougher test, one that measures awareness, lateral vision, reaction times and eye-hand coordination."

"Awareness, lateral vision, reaction times and eye-hand coordination all decay with age. That’s why it’s no accident older men are generally the ones dying on large motorbikes. Clearly, some of these men are not capable of controlling the machines they're riding. These unsafe riders should have their motorbike licences revoked immediately." 

Matthew-Wilson adds that it’s a waste of time asking people to drive or ride safely.

“The science is quite clear: road safety campaigns aimed at changing behaviour almost never work.”

“I don’t doubt that the people who run these campaigns sincerely believe that they are making a difference, but facts are facts. If we are going to lower the road toll, we have to stop repeating the failed strategies of the past, and instead focus on what works.”


[1] In 1997, the internationally respected American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety published a worldwide review of the effectiveness of driver training. The conclusion: “driver education and training don’t lead to lower crash involvement”.

In fact, the opposite has often been observed. For example, when young men attended courses that taught skid control, offroad recovery, and other emergency manoeuvres, the outcome was adverse.

The same applies to both bicycles and motorbikes: after reviewing motorcycle rider education and training programmes in three countries, Dan Mayhew of Canada’s Traffic Injury Research Foundation concluded that there’s “no compelling evidence that rider training is associated with reductions in collisions.”

Mayhew says:

“Males who received training had higher crash rates than those who did not take the training. Authors of the relevant studies have suggested that males trained in these skills become overconfident in their ability and now take unnecessary risks.”

The 1997 IIHS conclusion was reinforced by a 2015 study of a special training course for young drivers, which included skid avoidance and vehicle control training.

The conclusion: “there is no evidence the extra training makes them safer drivers.”