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Please no Panning, Penning!!

June 10, 2010


Dunoon, Scotland – The man with responsibility for UK road safety, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport Mike Penning MP a former biker of 20 years, has opened his account with the UK biker’s bank and ordered a review of the motorcycle testing and training regime.

Bowing to pressure from the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI), the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) and the House of Commons Transport Select Committee the review, to be carried out by Department of Transport (DfT) mandarins, industry and rider groups, will look at safety issues relating to the manoeuvres carried out in both modules 1 (off-road) and 2 (on-road) of the ‘new’ UK motorcycle test. The review will also look into the possibility of including module 1 into the module 2 manoeuvres opening the door for the conducting of tests at places other than Driving Standards Agency (DSA) testing ‘super centres’.

The review is also expected to examine other related motorcycle testing and training issues, including the options for training and testing for progressive access under the Third Driving Licence Directive and how any changes relate to wider proposals to improve motorcycle training and testing. BRR understands that the DSA will not be part of the DfT led review team, neither have the precise scope and terms of reference of the review been determined.

This review is a major and long overdue victory for the industry and riders groups and congratulations are due for achieving it, but it’s essential to look beyond the rhetoric, ambiguity and obscuration of this issue. After all we are seeking safe and well-trained motorcycle and scooter riders as the outcome.

Thus some, possibly unpalatable, discussion.

One consequence of the Lib Dem/Conservative Coalition is a revisiting of government transparency and engagement. Ministers have been told to offer consultation with user groups in a softening up process for the expected deep budgetary cuts and tax increases, the ‘we are all in this together’ concept. Thus Penning has taken motorcycling under his wing and offered up the motorcycle testing and training regime review. This is almost certainly indicative that the brief given to him by civil servants on road safety issues has moved motorcycling to the top of the DfT list for attention. We may get a review of the test but expect even more, unwelcome, attention road safety wise.

The question must be asked would MCI be paying as much attention to the safety of the test if we not in the throes of the deepest recession to hit the UK motorcycling industry for sixty years. Sales are depressed, we need to expand and safe guard the market for the immediate and intermediate future. We are spending millions on the ‘Get-On Campaign to get new riders into the dealer loop. OMG we have made the test so difficult no one can pass it. Get it fixed! What are we talking here sales or safety?

You can’t but feel sorry for the DSA. Stuck in the middle of this lot and blamed by everybody. If it’s not for the alleged hundreds of people injured taking the new test it’s the millions that will be lost if the ‘super test centres’ close. Well just consider that people were injured taking the old test and that none of the 66 ‘super test centres’ ,costing £ 72 million, will close as they are also used for car. LGV and PCV testing. Of course we do have the accusation that the DSA used the eer fact that the test had to be conducted off-road to empire build, conveniently forgetting that the combined swerve and stop test, the bit where prospective bikers are falling off, is not required by the directive

Are the right people conducting the review? The expected membership is a bit like poachers turned game keepers. It would be nice to see some independent members of the review team. How about looking at what other EU countries do, not the content of the test but how it’s conducted. Then there are issues like test costs will they be looked at too? And what about collision avoidance training, after all that’s what the combined swerve and stop test was all about. Are we stuck with the good ole hit the brakes and think of England regime, or do we get some decent avoidance training at long last.

Can we predict the out come of the review? Expect the issue over the 50 km/h (31.25mph) requirement to be resolved and some reworking of the test course layout to facilitate better safety. Also expect the return of part-time test centres that will use a modified on road testing system. Also on the cards the selling off or break up of the DSA and the granting of ‘franchises’ to independent testers allowing ‘one stop shop’ training and testing. That’s high on the industries ‘hit list’ of review outcomes.

The Third Driving Licence Directive. If the DSA are out of the frame or at least put back in their gold-plated box common sense may prevail and the fact EU Member States have had significant latitude in implementing requirements in Directives may be recognised. The industry of course will be fighting any mention of log book training and requirements for specified training periods. After all we don’t want any thing to affect those nice profitable direct access courses do we!

As part of the review process the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mike Penning MP, has invited all interested parties to offer their views.

That means you!

Got something to say then e-mail it to by 31 July 2010.

Then of course there’s the alternative view as posted on one of the UK’s largest motorcycle interest forums:-

A review that will be concluded by the autumn………

That’s another 6 months of increasing body count before “they” decide they have all the input, a further 6 months will put it into the period of the expected 3rd directive implementation so the whole business of the 2nd directive will be swept under the carpet without them doing anything at all.

It’s easy for a politician to sit on a comfortable chair and say we will look into it while people continue being injured.

And they say I’m cynical!

Ride safe and swerve, you know it makes sense!

© Back Roads Rider 2010

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Europa permalink
    June 10, 2010 9:06 am

    Was a change of heart on the cards from the DSA or where they just embarassed at the ridiclus proposals to introduce the 3rd Driving Licence when in May at the Third workshop on the 2006/126/EC Transposition in Member States in Brussels Paul Butler, Director of Policy and Research Driving Standards Agency –Department for Transport, UK presented the GB case study.

    While presenting the usual “motorcyclists are doomed” statistics to deliver the directive in GB to:

    Protect safety
    Minimise disruption for riders and trainers
    Minimise cost for riders, trainers, regulators

    something which the DSA proposals would have the opposite effect, certainly on the latter two deliverables and to “Protect Safety” is that to protect the UK safety statistics so that we don’t slip down the league table of member states safety records or to make motorcycling safer…………….

    Anyhow the presented GB Approach to implementing the directive has no mention of the complicated half assed, complicated, gold plated approach from the recent GB consultation.

    This presentation looked like the UK was going to sprinkle the directive with a light coating of fairy dust rather than what they where proposing, a cloud of volcanic ash dropped in from Iceland.

    Meanwhile I hear from Northern Ireland, technically part of the UK but with its own driving and licencing authorities, that this proposed review may have no effect there, as the DfT and DSA only cover GB not Northern Ireland.

    So riders, trainers, organisations there will have to ask for a seperate review or the authorities may just follow the review from the DfT or even say no we are fine here, no problems, remembering that Northern Ireland introduced the 2nd Directive before the rest of the UK while having no direct access or CBT but coming soon.

    Meanwhile in Southern Ireland, who have KPH speed limits, they conduct emergency stops and brake and swerve on road.

    Apparently I am told it is a case of, see that car parked on the side of the road, ride up to it swerve around it and brake, well done you have passed that part of the test……or not!


  1. Anonymous

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