NB chief coroner: "more motorcycle regulations"

Inexperienced riders need to go through a graduated licensing system, says New Brunswick's chief coroner. Photo: www.taupodc.govt.n
Inexperienced riders need to go through a graduated licensing system, says New Brunswick's chief coroner. Photo: www.taupodc.govt.nz

Talk of changes to motorcycle regulations continues in New Brunswick in the wake of a prominent motorcycle-pedestrian fatality last summer, with a call now from the chief coroner for graduated licensing.

Authorities launched an investigation after 46-year-old lawyer Caroline Higgins was struck and killed by an out-of-control motorcycle in the summer of 2010. The rider wasn’t charged after the incident, but chief coroner Gregory Forestell says the tragedy is proof that motorcyclists need graduated licensing, and he’s lobbying the government to implement such a program.

Higgins’ family is echoing those statements; her brother Don has been working to implement more motorcycle safety regulations since her death, telling CBC News the expense for rider training, motorcycle inspection, and graduated licensing can all be covered by motorcyclists.

It doesn’t look as if the provincial government needs any urging from the coroner or victim’s families though; as we’ve already told you, the transportation department is considering motorcycle inspections and graduated licensing, and police forces seem to be all for it.

Smaller-displacement bikes that still feature decent performance, like Honda's CBR250R, should sell well if graduated licensing is brought in.

New Brunswick already has a tiered licensing system for motorcycles; riders can acquire a license for 550cc and under, or a license that allows them to ride any machine, regardless of engine displacement. However, new riders can get either license at the time of their road test, enabling beginners to hit the streets on fairly large, powerful bikes without the experience to handle them safely.

There hasn’t been much of a reply to the regulation rumours from the motorcycling community yet, but you can bet it’s coming.


  1. I have to weigh in on this conversation. I am a new rider this year, with a 2006 FZ6 (600cc). I am a mature rider (35yrs old).

    With respect, I do not see a logical reason to restrict my license to a 250cc. I am comfortable and seemingly competent riding the 600. It is simply a matter of maturity and how you drive. I do not ride aggressively (high rpm = torque), I keep the rpm reasonable and hence maintain control of the motorcycle. Read…I make good decisions while riding due to general age / maturity.

    The problem as I see it is the decisions being made by young people, primarily excessive speed, ultra aggressive riding especially in urban traffic areas.

    You can dump a 250cc motorcycle at 120km/hr just as easy as a 600cc. In both cases, if you hit a light pole you’re dead. The cc does not matter, as both bikes reach very high rates of speed.

    Solution….education, make the safety driving course mandatory, include more class time in the course showing videos of the reality of motorcycle crashes.

    Just my two cents.

    • You have some valid points.
      Most riders feel competent and capable on bikes that are purpose built for performance.
      In this case, performance is not excluded to engine output.
      Cornering, agility, acceleration, stopping power, all things that make a bike like the FZ6 desirable.
      The sublime danger is of course in the vigilance with which we ride to survive.
      With respect, new riders of any age have a learning curve where the physical responses necessary for a split second reaction to avoid danger, requires time and practice to develop.

  2. I like facts.
    They’re more effective in helping me decide what’s good policy.
    So with that in mind, I decided to pop over to the Stats Canada website and do a little research.
    Out of all traffic deaths in Canada (2007), 4.5% were the drivers of motorcycles (I didn’t include passengers with the query).
    5% were between 15 and 19.
    21% were aged 20 to 24.
    9% were 25 to 29.
    7% were 30 to 34.
    9% were 35 to 39.
    The rest were over 40 (average was about 9% per age group after 40).
    So, what does it all mean? This is the part where fact and opinion take divergent paths.
    “There is evidence that drivers of motorcycles aged 20 to 24 are three times more likely to crash and die than those aged 30 to 34.”
    Notice how I used an age group that has the lower represented number to make a bolder statement?
    That’s called manipulation folks and until we start looking at the facts, we’re just blowing hot air…or listening to it.
    FWIW, I like the system of graduated licensing based on size of engine.
    Restrict new riders to 250cc for the first 3 years and work your way up.
    Riders who take the safety course can knock a year off.

  3. This is a prime example of what’s wrong with our legal/legislative system: one death (of a lawyer, one of their own) is hardly justification for new laws. Not to say that a better system might not be worthwhile, but its hard to see how one death (the details of which I admittedly know nothing about) is of any relevance to the discussion.

    • “one death… is hardly justification for new laws”

      @ ZRX Ry… This is kind of an off comment. How many deaths does it take to approach your threshhold for drafting up a new law? 2? 50? 100? If graduated licensing helps fewer newbies off themselves or others, it’s good for all motorcycle riders for any number of reasons.

      • Nothing odd about it all, in my opinion. I don’t believe that one isolated incident is a good basis for making law. I admit, however, that I don’t know exactly what the incident was – was there anything about it which suggests that improved rider training would have prevented it? I don’t know.

        I agree that a graduated licensing system is a good idea, although experince with the system as implemented here in Ontario suggests that it does little other than generate extra fees for licensing agencies. There’s no displacement or HP limit as part of our graduated system, however.

  4. I had assumed that they were adopting the Euro type of graduated license…33Hp restriction for the first term (not sure if it is a year or two), then step up…I think that is a good system, but if it is just an engine size restriction…

    What is BAC?

    @Gojibo…I agree that it isn’t the size of engine, but the state of tune…you can get a 650cc bike that has 35Hp, or a 600cc bike that has 110Hp…state of tune and number of cylinders…even if they restricted you for the first year to 50Hp max, that would be much easier to learn on than guys that go out and buy a GSX-R 1000 to “learn” on, a bike that weighs 450lbs ish and has 180Hp ish…or even a cruiser with the huge torque that they produce would be less than helpful, not to mentiont he 700lbs+ of bike…


  5. It does not matter the size of the engine on a motorcycle, even bicycles without engine can be dangerous, it had happen that a guy on roller-skates stroke and kill a pedestrian, so this thing about different kind of licenses according to skills, is nonsense. Politicians don’t know about practicality.

  6. I think graduated licensing is a good thing…how many 1st year riders get caught out on a 600cc SS bike every year…how many near misses are not reported…build the skills, then get the bike of your dreams…

    If this is mandated, then maybe the mfg’s will feel more compelled to bring in some of the nice smaller displacement bikes that are available elsewhere…

    I don’t think this is a bad thing…


    • They aren’t talking about restricting the bike you can ride, merely adding licence restrictions.

      I’d like to know what the benefit of allowing an M2 licensed operator to ride on the roads for up to five years with 0% BAC as the only restriction compared to an M operator who is allowed 0.05% BAC?

      They can both still be involved in accidents. So where does graduated licensing automatically mean an improvement in rider skills?

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