Motorbike courses should be mandatory, safety advocates say
A recent debate over the cost of motorcycle insurance has led to renewed calls for Saskatchewan to implement mandatory safety training for bikers.
Saskatchewan is one of the easiest places in Canada to get a motorcycle license. A new rider is not required to take motorcycle training or even a road test.
A short, written, exam is all that is needed for someone to get started on some powerful machines.
"You could go up to this bike, which is a Suzuki Hayabusa which goes up to 300 km/h," Darcey Shaw, who sells motorcycles in Regina, explained. "In Saskatchewan you can technically ride that, just on your learner's permit."
Shaw is one person who says a brief written exam, which could be done in 20 minutes, is not enough to ensure safety on the road.
In some provinces, including Manitoba and Quebec, motorcycle training is mandatory.
In Saskatchewan, only about 15 per cent of new riders took some training.
The province's insurance company, SGI, has said motorcycle insurance premiums need to rise, to offset the expenses related to crashes involving bikes.
According to SGI's Kwei Quaye more than half of motorcycle crashes happen within the first year of riding.
Quaye also pointed out that Saskatchewan does not have enough people available to conduct safety courses for new riders.
"Mandatory training is contingent on availability of trainers," he said. "Today, we don't have enough trainers to train. We don't have the capacity to train 2,000 new learners."
The Saskatchewan Safety Council has suggested one way to spur interest in training would be to offer discounts on insurance for riders who do get training.
The council also suggests legislation to make the training mandatory.
With files from CBC's Bonnie Allen