The risks of motorcycles for the over 40s

Riding a motorcycle has always been riskier than driving a car, but perhaps that’s part of the appeal. Unfortunately, it’s not just young men who have fatal accidents on motorbikes.

In Queensland, 2016 figures show middle aged men over 40 account for three quarters of all motorbike deaths, even though they make up only 4% of all road users. decided to investigate whether it’s the same story in NSW.

Qld v NSW

During the year to Feb 2017, 371 people died in a road accident in NSW. Of these, 62 motorbike riders and passengers were killed, or 17% of all road fatalities.

In Qld, exactly the same number – 62 – riders and pillions died in 2016. But there are fewer registered motorbikes in Qld than there are in NSW:

  • 198,468 registered motorbikes in Qld in 2016
  • 216,815 registered motorbikes in NSW in 2016.

During the year to February 2017, male motorcyclists over 40 accounted for 50% of the 62 deaths in NSW. This means men over 40 are dying in motorbike accidents at the same rate as men under 40, unlike in Qld.


Qld police attribute the high rate of motorcycle deaths to speed, inexperience, attitude, and loss of control. As one police inspector noted, not very fairly:

“[They] change from this calm, considered, collective, loving husband during the week, to this total fool on the weekend.”

The recent Qld campaign, RideSafely4Me, is designed to make all motorbike riders think twice before they get on the bike – about the people they are coming home to.

Getting a bike licence

It is harder to get a motorbike licence now than it has been in the past 17 years. Oddly, there is no requirement for a rider to retrain.

People who got bike licences when they were younger often claim they already know how to ride, even though road conditions have changed a lot and their skills may not be up to scratch. Riding the high powered motorbike they could not afford when younger also makes the ride more risky.


In Australia, the best selling motorbike is Honda, with nearly a quarter of all 2016 sales, followed closely by Yamaha. Harley Davidson came fourth in the market for all types of motorbikes, but came top for road bikes, with 22% of the market.

Motorbike riders of any age cannot afford to be complacent on the road. When buying a green slip, the brand does not matter but you do need to know the size of the engine.

Corrina Baird

Writer and expert

Corrina used to lend her car to her kids and discovered first hand what Ls, Ps and demerits mean for greenslips. After 20 years of writing and research in financial services, she’s an expert in the NSW CTP scheme. Read more about Corrina

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