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Sweden: extreme behaviour on two wheels is mainly about illegal riding

A majority of the Swedish motorcyclists are safety-conscious riders who don’t take unnecessary risks. But national statistics show that in 25 out of 72 fatalities the rider did not have a valid A-license, which corresponds to 34,7 percent.

The average age (31,5 years), shows that the problem is not about youngsters.

SMC says: “Let Sweden become a test country for a new A-license system where an A-license is as attractive as a smartphone.”

This is not the case today since 34 percent of the motorcyclists killed in 2011-2012 did not have a valid license. A majority of this group were drunk or influenced by drugs and didn’t own the motorcycle they were riding. It is essential to have a valid driver’s license while riding a motorcycle, according to studies conducted by Swedish FEMA member, SMC.

When comparing the group without an A-license with those who had a driver’s license, it is clear that the non-license group committed a series of traffic offenses during the ride that led to the fatal accident. 72 percent were under the influence of alcohol and /or drugs in the group without an A-license, compared to eight percent in the group with an A-license. Only 40 percent of the group without a valid license owned the motorcycle they rode at the fatal accident, compared with 85 percent among those who had an A-license. Two thirds of those without an A-license were riding an illegal motorcycle that was unregistered/out of traffic/uninsured.

SMC has also studied motorcycle accidents with seriously injured motorcycle riders. The statistics clearly show that riding without a valid A-license is an important factor not only among the fatalities, but also among motorcyclists who are seriously injured. 117 out of 760 severely injured didn’t have a valid A-license, which represents 15 percent of all severely injured in motorcycle accidents. The average age was 42,48 years.

The actions taken to reduce accident rates on motorcycle are more stringent requirements for A-licenses by EC directives. The age limit has been increased, the requirements for test vehicles have been tightened and more riding tests have been introduced. In parallel, Sweden introduced mandatory risk training for motorcycle and raised the fees for riding tests on motorcycle.

The changes of A-license regulation has not led to reduced accident rates. On the contrary, the proportion of killed without a valid license increase every year. The number of new license holders on a motorcycle has declined almost every year since 2004. The world’s leading road safety experts has put education as the primary measure to increase safety among motorcyclists.  Based on this, we must make access to education possible and offer an education that is cost-effective and thus accessible to many. Experience, not the riding tests, must be seen as an important part of rider training. Therefore SMC proposes that Sweden applies to become a test country for a new driving license system on motorcycles in EU.