Motorcyclists

Motorcycle riders and their passengers are among our most vulnerable road users. While only making up around 6% of WA's road users, motorcyclists account for more than 20% of serious injuries and fatalities on WA's roads.

Motorcycle riders and their passengers are among our most vulnerable road users as, compared to vehicle occupants, they have little protection in the event of a crash.

Riders are subject to variations in road surface conditions, and it requires more control and skill by the rider to operate safely compared to a passenger car.

The number of registered motorcycles and mopeds in Western Australia has more than doubled over the past decade, more than any other Australian jurisdiction.

Motorcycle riders operate in high-speed environments beyond the safe physical tolerance limits the body can withstand without serious harm in a crash.

Offences and penalties

Most rules that apply to motor vehicle drivers also apply to motorcyclists. However, the following offences and penalties apply to motorcycle riders and passengers.

Offence Penalty Demerits
Failing to wear an approved helmet. $550 4
Failing to sit astride the seat, facing forwards. $100 3
Failing to ride with at least one hand on the handlebars. $100 3
Failing to keep both feet on footrests designed for the driver. $100 3
Ride on a road with more than one passenger. $100 0
Riding a motorcycle with a passenger younger than 8 years of age (unless that passenger is in a sidecar). $100 0
Ride with more passengers than a sidecar or seat is designed to carry. $100 3
Ride on a road with a passenger seated unsafely. $100 3
Ride in a sidecar seated unsafely. $100 0
Riding with an animal between the rider and the handlebars. $100 1

Riding tips and techniques and lane filtering FAQ 

Lane filtering is a manoeuvre where a motorcycle rider travels at low speed – no more than 30 km/h – between two lanes of stationary or slow-moving vehicles travelling in the same direction. Riding between lanes of traffic at more than 30 km/h is illegal.

Western Australia’s motorcycle lane filtering legislation (Road Traffic Code 2000 r.130Ahas been designed with the safety of motorcycle riders and all other road users in mind.

A penalty of $100 and 2 demerit points apply to riders who do not follow lane filtering rules.

Helmets & helmet standards

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Your helmet should fit you properly and offer protection that complies with the Australian Helmet standards.
  • Try the helmet on for size before you buy it and don’t purchase online unless you are sure it will fit correctly.
  • Light coloured helmets are more visible to other vehicles day and night.
  • Do not buy a second-hand helmet, as you don’t know how it has been treated, if it has been involved in a crash or if there is any damage (e.g. UV degradation).
  • Helmets must be replaced if you are involved in a crash or it has been dropped.

Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH)

Helmets range in price and construction. Try to ensure the helmet you choose offers the best protection, the best fit and the most comfortable style for the price.  The Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH) website  provides independent and consistent information on the levels of protection from injury provided by motorcycle helmets in a crash, as well as the comfort level of the helmets.  

CRASH is operated by a consortium of government agencies and NRMA Motoring

Consumer Rating and Assessment of Safety Helmets (CRASH)

Approved standards for motorcycle helmets

The wearing of approved standard helmets for all type of motorcyclists and their pillion passengers, including moped riders, is compulsory in Australia.  Extensive research shows the effectiveness of wearing approved motorcycle helmets in preventing or reducing the risk of serious or fatal injury in a motorcycle crash.    

Regulation 244 of the  Road Traffic Code 2000 states that a motorcycle, including a moped, must not be ridden unless an approved standard or type of helmet is securely fitted and fastened to the head of the rider.  Failure to comply can incur 4 demerit points and a $550 infringement.

Regulation 244 also stipulates that any other person, who is riding or being carried on the motorcycle, including a moped, shall wear an approved protective helmet fitted securely on the head.  The infringement is $550 for failing to comply. 

The standards and types of helmets approved for use in Western Australia include:

  • Australian Standard (AS) 1698:1988, Protective helmets for vehicle users;
  • Australian Standard /New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS) 1698: 2006, Protective helmets for vehicle users;
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN ECE) 22.05 Uniform provisions concerning the approval of protective helmets and their visors for drivers and passengers of motor cycles and mopeds;

To ensure that your protective helmet is compliant with the Western Australian legal standards and types, look for identifying marks on the helmet, such as a sewn-in label and, on 2010 or later helmets, a compliance sticker. All helmets must be marked to show that they comply with the relevant Australian Standard (i.e. AS 1698:1988 or AS/NZS 1698:2006),UN ECE 22.05 or UN ECE 22.06. 

Labels of accredited bodies
 
For helmets that comply with UN ECE 22.06, the helmet must bear a label displaying an international approval mark. Look for a label sewn into the retention system of the helmet.
A circle with an E and number 1 insideA circle with an E and number 4 inside

The mark is in the form of a circle surrounding the letter ‘E’, followed by the distinguishing number of the country in which the testing and certification was approved.  The number on the right of the ‘E’, therefore, may vary from one model of helmet to another (e.g. 2=France, 3=Italy). 
A circle with an E and number 2 inside with text belowA circle with an E and number 5 inside with text below

 

Choosing the right motorcycle

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Before you make a decision, follow these tips on how to choose the right motorcycle for you.
  • Talk to experienced riders, chat to knowledgeable staff in showrooms and refer to motorcycle websites.
  • Think about what sort of motorcycle will suit your needs, whether it’s for touring at weekends, everyday commuting, trips to the beach or a sports model.
  • Be realistic about your size, weight, and strength, as you will need to be able to manoeuvre quickly, efficiently, and confidently.
  • If upgrading to a more powerful bike after upgrading your licence, take time to practise or take a refresher course, as the handling is very different from smaller motorcycles.

Safe braking

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‘Setting up’ is braking lightly as you approach potential hazards, to give you more control and opportunity to react to unexpected events.

It also:

  • prepares the motorcycle to stop without locking up the brakes.
  • prepares any drivers behind you that you may be about to brake hard.

Avoiding a crash

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Lean into the swerve and then try and correct the motion as quickly as possible.
  • Check where you’re going to make sure you don’t end up in another crash.
  • If a blowout or rapid puncture occurs whilst you are riding:
    • Don’t brake – just gradually close the throttle down and try to steer straight.
    • Move your weight towards which ever tyre is still inflated.

Safe cornering

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Many motorcycle crashes are caused by simply misjudging cornering.
  • Adjust your speed coming up to a corner.
  • Ease off the brakes gently on entering the corner.
  • Change down to the appropriate gear to get you into and out of corners.
  • Allow for traffic and weather conditions.

In rural and regional areas, a typical motorcycle crash is a single vehicle run off road crash which can be caused by misjudging cornering:

  • Start corners wide to improve your vision of oncoming traffic.
  • Plan to finish in tight.
  • Move away from the central ‘head-on’ zone as you round the corner.

Difficult surfaces

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A number of surfaces can provide a slipping hazard for motorcycles, including wet roads, painted lane markings and steel surfaces.

To ride safely on slippery surfaces:

  • Reduce your speed, so that you require less space to stop.
  • Reduce the amount of lean on the motorcycle when riding curves, by slowing down and/or leaning your body into the bend.
  • Gain more traction from riding in the tracks made by the car in front of you.
  • Look out for oil that often collects down the centre of a lane.

Steering shakes or 'wobbles'

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Incorrect tyre pressure or weight distribution can lead to steering shakes or wobbles.

If it happens:

  • Grip the handlebars firmly but do not try to correct the steering.
  • Don’t fight the wobbling.
  • Gradually decelerate without braking suddenly.
  • Once the wobbling stops, pull over to a safe place.

Carrying a pillion passenger

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Carrying any additional weight your bike will affect the handling of the motorcycle.
  • Only carry a pillion passenger or heavy loads if you are an experienced rider.
  • Have a suitable seat for your passenger and ensure they have suitable protective gear.
  • Adjust the rear suspension spring preload, mirror, headlight and tyre pressure to allow for the additional weight.
  • Ride at lower speed and adjust your buffer zone to allow extra stopping distance.
  • Keep conversation to a minimum to avoid distraction.
  • Do not make your passenger nervous as it could compromise safety.
  • Do not have more than one passenger.
  • The minimum age for a motorcycle passenger is 8-years-old.

Your passenger should:

  • Get on the motorcycle after you have mounted the motorcycle and started the engine.
  • Sit as far forward as possible and hold on to the waist of the rider or a secure part of the motorcycle.
  • Keep both feet on the foot pegs at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped.
  • Stay directly behind you, leaning as you lean.

MotoCAP

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The Road Safety Commission contributed to the development and testing regime for a world first rating system for motorcycle protective gear and clothing, MotoCAP.

Choose a jacket, pants and gloves with a high MotoCAP safety rating to increase your protection on the roads.

Jackets

Choose a jacket with built-in shoulder, elbow and back protection that is abrasion and tear resistant.

Jackets should fit comfortably when sitting on your motorcycle and completely cover your arms.

Jackets are available in either leather or non-leather materials.

Eye Protection

Use the visor on your helmet to protect your eyes from debris when riding.

If you have chosen to use an open-faced helmet, ensure you wear quality glasses or goggles that are compliant with Australian and New Zealand Standard (AS/NZS) 1698 or United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Regulation No 22 (UNECE22.05) as amended.

Keep your helmet visor or glasses/goggles clean and free of scratches.

Use clear lenses for night riding.

Gloves

Choose a pair of gloves that fit securely around the wrist but are comfortable.

Gloves should be reinforced, padded and offer protection for fingers and knuckles.

Make sure your gloves allow you to improve your grip on the handle bars.

Boots

Your boots should offer protection to your feet, ankle and lower legs.

Use boots that are light but also secure and reinforced for the best protection.

Ensure the boots can fasten around the leg to prevent the boot from slipping off.

Pants

Riding pants should completely cover your legs.

Choose pants that have built-in reinforcement that is abrasion and tear resistant to protect your hips and knees.

Pants should be comfortable when you are in the riding position.

High visibility

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Improve your safety by ensuring you can be seen by other road users.

Riders should use the low-beam front headlight while riding during the day.

Choose a light coloured helmet that can be easily seen.

Wear hi-vis, fluorescent and/or reflective protective clothing.

What is lane filtering?

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Lane filtering is a manoeuvre where a motorcycle rider travels at low speed

Lane filtering is a manoeuvre where a motorcycle rider travels at low speed – no more than 30 km/h – between two lanes of stationary or slow-moving vehicles travelling in the same direction. Riding between lanes of traffic at more than 30 km/h is illegal.

Can lane filtering motorcyclists ride on continuous lines?

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Motorcycle riders can ride on and over continuous white lines separating lanes of traffic moving in the same direction while lane filtering.

Yes. Motorcycle riders can ride on and over continuous white lines separating lanes of traffic moving in the same direction while lane filtering. This will allow them to ride between lanes to stop at the front of the intersection where it is safe to do so.

Why aren’t lane filtering motorcyclists allowed to travel at more than 30 km/h?

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Riding between lanes at more than 30 km/h increases the crash risk for the motorcyclist and other road users.

Riding between lanes at more than 30 km/h increases the crash risk for the motorcyclist and other road users. Limiting lane filtering speeds to 30 km/h and below is consistent with the approach for safe riding throughout Australia.

What about pedestrian safety?

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Pedestrians may try to cross the road when there are stationary or slow moving vehicles, and may not expect lane filtering motorcycles.

Pedestrians may try to cross the road when there are stationary or slow moving vehicles, and may not expect lane filtering motorcycles. To minimise the risk of harm to pedestrians, lane filtering is not allowed between a line of traffic and the kerb. Lane filtering is also prohibited next to the edge of the road or parked cars.

To ensure pedestrian safety, motorcyclists are also prohibited from lane filtering at more than 30 km/h. This is because the relationship between speed and injury severity is particularly critical for pedestrians. For instance, pedestrians have a 90% chance of survival when struck by a vehicle travelling at 30 km/h or below, but less than a 50% chance of surviving a collision at 45 km/h.

Where is lane filtering prohibited?

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Lane filtering is a complex and potentially risky manoeuvre which should only be conducted in low risk traffic situations.

Lane filtering is a complex and potentially risky manoeuvre which should only be conducted in low risk traffic situations. For safety reasons, lane filtering is prohibited where –

  • the rider is approaching or riding on a children’s crossing, marked foot crossing or pedestrian crossing;
  • the rider is in a school zone or shared zone;
  • the applicable speed limit is 40 km/h or below;
  • the rider is between one or more heavy vehicles;
  • the vehicles the rider is riding between are merging;
  • no overtaking is allowed;
  • the rider is in a roundabout;
  • the rider is riding in or next to a bicycle lane, bus lane or other special purpose lane;
  • the rider is next to the kerb or edge of the road, or alongside parked cars;
  • it is unsafe in the circumstances to lane filter.

Why can’t motorcyclists lane filter in areas where the speed limit is 40 km/h or below?

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In the interests of safety, lane filtering is prohibited in such areas.

Roads are speed limited to 40 km/h and below where there are high levels of pedestrian activity (e.g. near shops and cafes) and where particular care needs to be taken (e.g. at roadworks, school zones, shared zones, pedestrian priority zones, and where there is a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights). In the interests of safety, lane filtering is prohibited in such areas.

Why can’t motorcyclists lane filter in roundabouts?

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Motorcyclists are already overrepresented in serious and fatal crashes at roundabouts.

Motorcyclists are already overrepresented in serious and fatal crashes at roundabouts. Allowing motorcyclists to lane filter in roundabouts will increase the risk of a crash.

Why can’t motorcyclists lane filter beside heavy vehicles?

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Heavy vehicles have large blind spots, and their drivers often have difficulty spotting motorcyclists.

Heavy vehicles have large blind spots, and their drivers often have difficulty spotting motorcyclists. This makes it unsafe to ride between one or more heavy vehicles.

What is a heavy vehicle?

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A heavy vehicle is a vehicle, other than a bus, which has (together with any attached trailers and loads) a GCM of 22.5t or more.

A heavy vehicle is a vehicle, other than a bus, which has (together with any attached trailers and loads) a GCM of 22.5t or more. For example, heavy vehicles include semi-trailers, road trains, etc.

Are motorcyclists riding under a learner permit allowed to lane filter?

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No.

No. Lane filtering requires a high level of riding ability, road awareness and hazard perception, and is difficult for inexperienced riders to do safely.

Are all motorcycles allowed to lane filter?

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No.

No. Motorcycles with a sidecar and motorcycles with three wheels are not allowed to lane filter.

Do the lane filtering laws apply to cyclists?

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No.

No. Lane filtering laws apply to riders of motorcycles only. For rules and penalties that apply to cyclists, please visit the cyclists page.

Announcements

News story

Spotlight on motorcycle safety

The President of the Motorcycle Riders Association of WA can’t believe he still sees some WA motorcycle riders risk serious life-altering injuries by not wearing the appropriate protective clothing while riding.
News story

Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day

In order to raise awareness and advance safety for motorcyclists on WA roads, the Motorcycle Riders Association of WA (MRAWA) is holding Ride Your Motorcycle to Work Day (RYMWD) tomorrow, Wednesday 14 October.
News story

Humour sparks serious motorcycle safety message.

Far-fetched safety devices feature in the State Government’s new digital motorcycle education campaign designed to spark a road safety conversation among motorcycle riders in WA.
Page reviewed 19 October 2021