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A Testing Time for the Motorcycle Test

October 5, 2009
Testing Time!

Testing Time!

Portsmouth, England – The next session of the UK Parliament commences on 12 October. It is during this session that the Transport Committee will consider the evidence laid before it relating to current arrangements in the UK for motorcycle and scooter rider testing.

The UK rider representative groups, rider training organisations and industry representative groups have raised concerns over both the implementation of the test and the methods being used for testing candidates.

An update for those who maybe new to this issue. Originally scheduled for introduction in September 2008, as a consequence of the European Second Driving Licence Directive, the new testing procedure for prospective UK motorcyclists and scooterists did not actually take effect until April this year.

In a surprise move the UK Driving Standards Agency (DSA) announced January 2009 that the motorcycle test would be split into two parts: Module 1 contains the specified manoeuvres element of the test including exercises designed to assess the rider’s ability to control their machine safely, including avoidance and emergency stop exercises. Module 2 includes an eyesight test and at least 30 minutes of on-road riding, assessing the rider’s ability to safely interact with other road users. Riders must also have passed a Compulsory Basic Training programme allowing them to ride on the highway with ‘L plate’ and also taken and passed a theory and hazard perception test.

There are a number of issues relating to the implementation of the test and its conduct that give genuine cause for concern. Indeed the DSA’s failure to secure the necessary EU derogation allow test manoeuvres be taken at 30mph, inability to deliver the correct number of test centres on time, the fact that there are too few test centres meaning test candidates have to travel long distances, the draconian attitude of examiners maintaining that the ‘swerve and stop’ test must be taken in any and all weather conditions and automatic failure of candidates whose small engine capacity machines have no hope of reaching the mandatory testing speed not only beggar belief  but certainly need further investigation, modification and censure for those idiots who are responsible for the mess but are now only to willing to pass the buck of responsibility for causing it.

That said we must not lose sight of the fact that the new test was introduced to produce riders who are safe and above all confident from day one of their biking ‘careers’. Thus it’s essential that a ‘watering down’ of the test is avoided. What we need is simple a more thought through and even sensitive approach from the DSA.

There’s a back story here that needs examination. Is the new testing system being blamed by the ‘industry’ for all its current woes? The training representative groups and training schools are claiming downturns in business and income dropping by a third because of the test. Well hang on a moment. Surly the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) campaign, through 2007-08, suggesting that it would be a good idea to take the motorcycle test before the new regime started is a factor here, the pool of prospective riders has simple been exhausted. Not to mention that the downturn of motorcycle sales, 31% in the last year will be reflected by a decrease in likely test candidates.

Then there’s all the moaning and groaning about the large number of test failures the new system is producing. Well if the training schools trained people better that might pass. Perhaps we should ask ourselves if days the instant rider 3 and 5 day training courses are over. After all the idea is to produce competent and safe riders, not a quick profit!

So will the Transport Committee make any difference, will the weeks poring over written evidence and the days listing to oral submissions change anything. Probably not, just another chance for the anti’s to peddle negativity and the industry to wash some laundry in public, MAG to claim its all down to them and the BMF to hold another meeting.

The Transports Committees report will be submitted to the Department for Transport for a response, and the response will be, well a response. Of course this might simple disappear down the plug hole of the next UK election, which must take place before May 2009.

Mean time if you live in the small town of Portree in Scotland it’s a 220 mile round trip to your nearest motorcycle and scooter test centre in Inverness.

And they say the British are organised.

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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One Comment leave one →
  1. bob craven permalink
    November 12, 2009 5:37 pm

    What else can u expect from a third rate nation [ or is it fourth] and government bringing everything down to fifth rate. From pathetic polititions and underelings that wouldnt say boo to a goose, for the sake of their so called positions or jobs or expenses. wouldnt pay em with washers my mother would say and she would know she’s 89 yrs of age and has seen the best come and go and now sees the dredges that left. [ her words not mine]

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