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Riders Let Down in UK Motorcycle Test Mayhem

June 22, 2009


Learner rider - Missing out??

Learner rider - Missing out??

Cardington, England – The arrival of the updated requirements for the UK motorcycle test has again demonstrated the poor leadship within the UK motorcycle and motorcycle training industry and the lack of communication between the industry and UK Driving Standards Agency (DSA). Once again the riders have been let down.

Introduced on April 29th 2009 the new European style UK motorcycle test incorporates the controversial, in UK eyes that is, swerve and controlled stop manoeuvre designed to test candidate’s ability to avoid a collision. This manoeuvre is not easy; it demands confidence and practice from test candidates but will, over time, reduce crashes that’s why I and many others in the UK supported its introduction. In short it WILL save lives.

The introduction of the new test has been accompanied by litany of failures:-

Failure – UK Government fail to obtain rewording of EU Directive or derogation meaning that swerve and controlled stop manoeuvre must be undertaken at 50kph and not at EU member states equivalence speed, in UK case this would have been 30mph. This means that as a result of safety issues relating to speed limits UK test must be taken off public highways.

Failure – UK Driving Standards Agency fail to deliver new off highway test centres. Despite delaying introduction of test by nearly a year only 38 of a proposed 66 centres are open on launch day. Other areas covered by ‘temporary facilities’ Estimated cost to UK tax payers £80 million.

Failure – Despite Government assurances cost of new test facilities will be recovered via new test fee regime.

Failure – Introduction of new test sees motorcycle industry wobble on safety advantages of following candidate accidents stating “the over-riding factor behind the high accident rates of the new test is the combination of the ‘swerve’ manoeuvre and the ‘controlled’ stop being conducted as a single entity, which forces the rider to make two drastic changes in direction and then stop in an unreasonable distance”.

So we have it seems a gross mismanagement problem with the introduction of the test coupled with an industry unwilling to take its responsibilities in relation to producing safe riders and actually demanding it, the test, be made easier. Made easier by decoupling the ‘swerve’ and the ‘controlled stop’ manoeuvres, i.e. done separately, this really makes the whole thing a nonsense in road safety terms. Despite the fact that the same industry supported a Brussels lobbyist in a campaign to introduce the new test regime in the first place. Not exactly thought through is it.

Confused?? I am. As are perspective UK riders – test applications are dropping like a stone.

Yes there have been problems. Two spring to mind. The DSA’s very silly position of demanding that candidates take the test in all weather conditions i.e. not setting criteria in relation to rain and particular wind for one, and it must be said poor test candidate preparation as another.

Let’s hope this mess is sorted out soonest. Otherwise it will become another nail in the coffin of UK biking.

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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