Rider backs safety calls after mate's bike crash death

Darling Downs Riders Group member John Watton.
Darling Downs Riders Group member John Watton. Contributed

THE death of Darling Downs Riders Group member John Watton hit the club's 1000 members hard.

Experienced motorcycle rider Mr Watton was killed in a road accident on August 1.

He is one of 34 motorcycle riders who have been killed on Queensland roads since January 1 this year.

The sudden loss reverberated through the members, which co-founder Trent Withers said was a close-knit social group of motorcycle enthusiasts.

Mr Withers has been riding motorcycles for 15 years and has welcomed the State Government's proposed changes to toughen licensing laws for new riders.


He said any change that went some way to making Queensland roads safer for riders was welcome.

"I think it (reform) needs to be done in conjunction with motorcycle riders," he said.

"Any rules and regulations need to be done with common sense, and having people on restricted licenses for a little longer wouldn't be a bad thing."

John "Panda" Watton tragically died of his injuries after a motorbike crash. Photo Contributed Contributed

"There are so many more motorbike licences out there now because a lot more people are riding," Mr Withers said.

"Motorbike riding is not frowned upon now and more people are riding bikes.

"And because there are more motorbikes on the roads, of course there are more accidents."

Mr Withers said moves to toughen licensing laws were welcome, and any step away from the "idiotic five-question test" he did to get his licence was a good move.

"When I got my learner's permit it was a five-question test alongside my car licence," he said.

"The licensing now is already a lot tougher, and I am a firm believer of more practical riding experience."

Mr Withers said motorcycle groups such as the DDRG were social clubs that encouraged safe riding practices.

He said the group had about 1000 members, with a core number of about 50 who had helped establish it about 12 months ago.


Mr Watton was a member of the group, and when news spread of his death at Esk earlier this month, it rocked them.

"He was a very experienced rider and it was a big shock to the group," he said.

"There were about 100 bikes at his funeral (which shows) the camaraderie of the group."

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Motorbike fatalities in Qld since January 1, 2015

  • August 3 - Moorooka
  • August 1 - Mt Stuart
  • August 1 - Esk
  • July 31 - Bluewater
  • July 17 - Cannon Hill
  • July 4 - Beechmont
  • July 4 - Advancetown
  • July 4 - Townsville
  • July 4 - Clontarf
  • June 26 - Cedar Creek
  • June 23 - Balnagowan
  • June 18 - Bunburra
  • June 13 - Blackwater
  • May 11 - Marian
  • May 6 - Surfers Paradise
  • April 18 - Beechmont
  • April 12 - Chinchilla
  • April 11 - Yarrabilla
  • April 10 - Elimbah
  • April 5 - Edmonton
  • April 3 - Red Hill
  • March 24 - Emu Creek (Crows Nest)
  • March 14 - Banyo
  • March 7 - Kelvin Grove
  • March 8 - Wangetti
  • March 1 - Buccan (with pillion)
  • February 1 - Natural Bridge
  • January 26 - Shailer Park
  • January 21 - Morayfield
  • January 15 - Gladstone
  • January 11 - Neusa Vale
  • January 10 - Little Mountain
  • January 3 - Herberton

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