Release date: 11 October 2023

A first-hand account when motorists fail to keep a look out

Leading Queensland-based compensation law firm Travis Schultz & Partners (TSP) has issued a frank reminder to motorists, as the latest data from the Department of Transport and Main Roads reveals 64 motorcyclists have died this year. With three months of the year remaining, this toll represents 10 more deaths than last year – already making 2023 the deadliest year for motorbike riders.[1]

While motorcycles represent a minority of vehicles on Queensland roads, they account for a disproportionate 28 per cent of all road fatalities – and 48 per cent more deaths this year compared to the five-year average.[2] But despite these concerning statistics, more people are choosing to take to our roads on motorcycles. According to the Department of Transport and Main Roads, the number of registered motorbikes in Queensland has increased 8.8 per cent in two years.[3]

With these statistics continuing to make the headlines, TSP Special Counsel Emma Davidson says that while the fatality rates are confronting on their own, they are sadly not a representation of the extent of injured motorcyclists.

“In 2022 alone, 934 riders were hospitalised because of Queensland Road crashes.[4] The reported rates are cause for concern and do not include those who may instead attend their General Practitioner after an accident,” she said.

“In my role as a Personal Injury Lawyer in Queensland, I have been speaking to an increasing number of motorbike riders who have found themselves seriously injured because of events occurring on Queensland roads.”

“All road users have a role to play in keeping each other safe as the consequences of not taking that second look or having a momentary lapse in judgement can, quite simply, be catastrophic,” Ms Davidson said.

Ms Davidson’s client, Chris Searle, knows first-hand the harsh realities of motorcycle accidents when motorists fail to keep a look out and check for hazards.

Man riding motorcycle on highway

In March 2023, Mr Searle was riding his motorcycle on the Bruce Highway and while legally lane filtering was struck by a motorist travelling in the same direction. He suffered significant injuries including permanent nerve damage and is relearning to walk. His everyday health complications, including having to self-catheterise, means he is unable to return to his mining job.

Mr Searle says the most significant impact has been missing out on the active lifestyle he had before the accident.

“I miss working, riding, wakeboarding, and rugby league. I was an active person pre-accident and now post-accident I’m unable to do the things I love,” said Mr Searle.

While Mr Searle wishes for his health to improve and to get back to such activities, including riding one day, he hopes his message will support the awareness of motorcyclists on the road.

“Check your mirrors and be aware of what’s going on around you while driving. My hope is for further education to motorists on the road rules for motorcyclists, and that this will bring about greater attention and caution.”

“Take a second look” is the message MsDavidson is urging motorists to heed as MAIC data indicates 52 per cent of accidents are occurring when vehicles are travelling in the same direction.[5]

“Many motorists may not be aware that lane filtering in Queensland is legal for motorcycle riders in certain situations,” she said.

“Riders with an open licence are allowed to move between stationary or slow-moving vehicles travelling in the same direction as the rider, provided they do not exceed 30km/h and conditions are safe to do so.”

“Motorcyclists are also allowed to ride on the shoulder or in emergency stopping lanes, at a safe speed and up to 30 km/hr, if traffic has stopped or slowed on a motorway and has a speed limit over 90 km/hr. To ensure pedestrian safety, lane filtering is only allowed between stationary or slow-moving vehicles, not between vehicle and a kerb.”

“The increased risk of serious injury or death for a motorcyclist means it is essential for road users to be alert and aware of their surroundings while on the road,” Ms Davidson said.

Ms Davidson issues this reminder “For motorcyclists who are injured in an accident, they may have an entitlement to claim compensation against the at-fault driver, or their third-party insurer, for loss sustained due to injury. They may also have a claim with WorkCover if on a journey to, or from work. In addition to this, severely injured motorcyclists may also be able to access benefits under the National Injury Insurance Scheme (NIISQ), the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), or under their superannuation policy, such as income protection or total and permanent disability benefits. Having access to such benefits can help ease financial pressure if you are unable to work or require significant medical intervention due to the injuries. Strict time limits can apply so it is important to seek advice, so any entitlements are protected.”

[1] TMR Queensland Road Crash Weekly Report, Year to Date to Sunday 8 October, 2023