Champ says maturity is the key to safety, writes Mark Hinchliffe
FORMER world motorcycle champion Wayne Gardner doesn’t want his two sons riding on the road until they have developed ‘‘experience and maturity’’.
His comments come as the National Road Safety Council, of which he is a member, has called for more mandatory refresher rider training and better quality safety gear.
Gardner says his sons will not be allowed to ride on the road when they are old enough to get a licence.
‘‘I didn’t ride on the streets until I was in my middle 20s and I only ride occasionally now for leisure or transport convenience,’’ says Gardner, whose oldest son, Remy, 12, recently scored his first road race round victory at Phillip Island.
‘‘He’s already asked me if he can ride to school when he’s old enough and I’ve said no.
‘‘I’m confident in his ability on the racetrack, but there are a lot of obstacles on the road and there are far too many people who drive around in a daydream and don’t look out for bikes.’’
Gardner supports the Queensland Government ban on licensing riders until they’ve had a year driving on a car licence, but he says the biggest problem is mature riders returning to the activity after several years away from riding.
‘‘ As a racer, if you have three months off riding, it takes quite a long time to build your speed back up again,’’ he says.
‘‘The same thing goes for these mature-aged riders, yet some of them have been off the bike for 20 years.’’
National statistics show the road toll decreasing 7.8 per cent from 1500 in the 11 months to November 2009 to 1383 for the same period this year, while motorcyclist deaths have decreased only 1.7 per cent from 232 to 228.
The highest rate of biker deaths is in the age bracket from 40-60.
‘‘The council believes these people should have to do a mandatory refresher course,’’ he says.
‘‘We haven’t ironed out the details yet, but if you look at the stats there is an upward trend in deaths over 40.
‘‘Their kids have grown up and left home and they have extra income and go out and buy a flash, highpowered bike.
‘‘The good thing is they also get the latest gear but they forget about spending money on training.’’