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Drivers' licences too easy to get, road racing star says

The Age: Drivers’ licences too easy to get, road racing star says

SAMANTHA LANE
January 4, 2010 Comments 92

CADEL Evans has long considered Australian roads to be more hostile than the typically narrower routes of Europe. But while Victorian roads are statistically safer for motorists than ever before, the recently crowned world road champion believes little has changed for those travelling on two wheels.

As more than 2500 people embarked on the fourth Amy’s Ride around the Bellarine Peninsula yesterday to promote driver-rider awareness, and to remember Australian cyclist Amy Gillett who died in a road accident while on a national training camp in Germany in 2005, Evans lamented a problem that has no simple solution.

It is a particularly raw subject in Geelong after local sporting identity Rex Sizeland was killed on a recreational morning cycle in the days before Christmas. Police reported that a car ran into the back of a handful of cyclists. Evans, who calls Barwon Heads home when he is in Australia, happened upon the scene about five minutes after the collision.

Yesterday, he was carrying a photocopy of a letter to the editor that was published in the Geelong Advertiser, in which a correspondent objected to the notion that motorists should show more respect for cyclists - a message that Evans, an ambassador for the Amy Gillett Foundation since its formation, peddles whenever possible.

The two-time Tour de France runner-up thinks the blame-game is pointless, but he believes Australian driving licences should be harder to get.

Victorian laws changed in 2007 to make 120 hours of driving with an ’’experienced’’ driver a requirement for getting a driver’s licence.

Though the state’s road toll was below 300 for the first time in 2009, the number of fatalities among 18-to-20-year-olds increased from 28 to 36 while virtually every other group decreased.

Amy Gillett Foundation statistics show that 280 cyclists sustained serious injuries and five cyclists died due to collisions with vehicles on Victorian roads last year.