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Bit of a boo-boo…

October 16, 2011

 

Glossop, England – Even the best run and regulated organisations can make a mistake.

I’ll leave it to you to score the European Commission and Parliament on the best run European organisation chart but this weeks blunder, as revealed by  the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM),  surely won’t see them hitting number one.

According to FIM it seems that someone somewhere in the European Union (EU) administration forgot to inform the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) about the changes in motorcycle licence category’s, contained within the 3rd European Union Driving Licence Directive, due to come into force in 2013.

Meaning that the new AM (moped) and A2 (intermediate motorcycle up to 35kW power output) categories will only be recognised within the twenty-seven countries that make up the EU. This is a big issue as machines in the 35kw category are easily capable of long distance travel. Problems will also arise if a holder of an EU AM or A2 licence hires or buys a machine to use in a non EU state, they simple won’t have a valid licence.

Red faces all around and quick fix time me thinks.

According to BRR sources this licensing non conformity issue was first pointed out by Russian delegates to the UNECE who, incidentally, are also pushing for a global standard for vehicle periodic technical inspections (PTI), that’s MoT’s to me and you.

Meantime in Brussels the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA) handed its petition against mandatory PTI in all EU countries to a representative of the European Commission’s Road Safety Unit. FEMA is nothing if not flexible in its approach. Taking money from the same Road Safety Unit for research into road safety issues while handing in petitions against not dissimilar road safety issues. How to face three hundred and sixty degrees at once. Little wonder politicians struggle to take us seriously.

FEMA’s position on PTI? Technical failures only account for 0.3% of  EU motorcycle  crashes. My position? If mandatory PTI in all European States saves one persons life that’s good enough for me. That 0.3% represents some people, someone, it’s not just a figure on a screen or ink on a page.

Good news. The UK Government has announced its intention to relax rules on traffic signs. Councils and Road Authorities will be given powers which will allow them to reduce the number signs that clutter streets and roads. Good news for scooters and motorcyclists. Less signs means less poles means less things to crash into means safer roads. Common sense in action!

One for the sign cognoscenti. The infamous Raynes Park “Keep Off The Grass” sign – view here…

Riding, it’s a sign of the times.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian Cook permalink
    October 16, 2011 11:55 pm

    “If mandatory PTI in all European States saves one persons life that’s good enough for me.” Oh please! If that truly is your position, just come out for banning motorcycles altogether – how many lives would that save?

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      October 17, 2011 8:24 pm

      Well if its deciding what to ban lets start with wars and then move on shall we.

      Its all about proportionality and risk as far as I’m concerned. I’m perfectly willing to accept the risk of riding but will do all I can to reduce that risk. A well maintained machine is one way of doing that.

      Considering the state of some bikes I see on my frequent trips to Europe something needs to be done. FEMA are in a fantasy world if they think all European motorcyclists maintain their machines to a reasonable standard. I for one don’t want to be taken off by some pillock who simple can’t be bothered.

      • Ian Cook permalink
        October 20, 2011 8:18 am

        So, if “something must be done”, start with the 60% (ish) of accidents that are caused by drivers “looking but failing to see”. How much driver education could you buy for the cost of enforcing PTI to save less than 0.3%?

        You can’t even pretend that mandatory PTI would even save many of the lives lost to poor maintenance – inspections every 1 or 2 years would never stop all faults (simple e.g: how long to wear a tyre or brake pads from legal to illegal?) and the worst offenders would never get their bikes tested anyway.

        I think you’ve spent too much time with “the Establishment”. Take a break before it’s too late…

  2. Sooty and Sweep permalink
    October 17, 2011 1:07 am

    Reference the campaign by FEMA to stop the EU wide introduction of PTI.

    They state:

    “FEMA argues that an extension of PTI will not improve road safety, and only represents an unjustified additional financial burden on motorcyclists. There is no conclusive evidence of a positive impact on safety. Technical failures only account for 0.3% of motorcycle accidents, and only a fraction could be avoided by bi-annual inspection schemes”.

    http://www.fema-online.eu/index.php?mact=News,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=258&cntnt01returnid=15

    In the first instance, they have based the 0.3% on the MAIDS report (although that refers to all vehicle failures including cars). If you actually go and look at the stats.(page 31 of MAIDS report, 2009 version) you find that technical failures were 1.6% (32 PTWs). Also the figures include countries such as Italy, Spain and Germany that have PTI.

    Secondly, I wish they’d learn to at least understand English. Bi-annual means twice a year.
    The EU Commission has suggested PTI inspections every two years, not two times every year!

    Anyway, CITA state that “The accident analysis data in particular show major discrepancies between the groups of motorcyclists. A high amount of 64.9% – 84.3% of light motorcycles examined after an accident were defective, some of which with severe defects. However, even in the motorcycles which require licensing and which were examined, accident analysts found severe defects in 55.2% of cases. The percentage of accident-relevant faults in motorcycles is therefore accordingly high. The accident analysts classified 13% of defects found after accidents as accident-relevant for motorbikes and 30% for light motorcycles”.

    They also point out that age matters, i.e. the older the vehicle, the more likely there are defects.

    http://www.cita-vehicleinspection.org/Portals/cita/autofore_study/LinkedDocuments/Pass%20fail%20rates%20and%20accidents%20vs%20PTI%20fequency.pdf (pages 21 and 22)

    You could argue that CITA has a vested interest because it represents the testing authorities, equally you could argue that FEMA has a vested interest because it represents its members – especially those that do not want the introduction of PTI.

    The alternative to PTI, according to FEMA, is that the manufacturers should extend warranties and cover the cost of defects and emissions. There are two possible outcomes to this: the consumer (us) will end up paying for the cost of extending warranties or the manufacturers will go out of business. Also, there will have to be a cut off point when the warranty will expire. Then what?

  3. October 17, 2011 11:46 am

    If something causes less than 1% of accidents then it is entirely disproportionate to force every single affected person to be subject to a restrictive regime that will be funded by the individual. It would be much like getting every single home appliance PAT tested every year to prevent a couple of electrocutions every year at your expense. Those countries that do not have annual or biennial inspections do not seem to have a large problem with bikes disintegrating under users.

    Moreover, I see nothing wrong with taking money from an institution that proposes ineffective safety measures so that better and more effective measures can be highlighted instead. After all, they spent thousands on getting TRL to conduct research on “anti-tampering” and that genuinely is both ineffective in its current application and would appear to be ineffective in any future situation. Much like the apparently illegal 3rd Driving Licence Directive will be.

  4. Back Roads Rider permalink*
    October 17, 2011 10:26 pm

    An interesting take.

    Do we legislate to safeguard the interests of the majority or to force the minority to conform. Are we forced to legislate by the actions of a minority.

    If we apply your argument to wire rope barriers the question arises why we are bothering as only three or four UK riders are killed in each year following colliding with wire rope barrier systems.

    Is there a difference between a death caused by bad maintenance and one caused by a crash? Either could be the riders fault.

  5. Andy P. permalink
    October 17, 2011 10:44 pm

    but but but…..”If something causes less than 1% of accidents then it is entirely disproportionate to force every single affected person to be subject to a restrictive regime that will be funded by the individual”. Firstly it depends on whose data you look at and I’d take ACEM’s with a shovel of salt.

    Is the MoT a restrictive regime? I didn’t think so. Considering that nobody – and that’s nobody even knows what the Commission aims to propose in terms of PTI for motorcycles, then what are we supposed to be discussing?

    I understand that the UK government has been asking around for views of what people think about an MoT every two years. So if that is the case – what’s the problem?

    Also I do NOT believe that all motorcyclists look after their bikes – I believe that what most do here is that they take their bikes to get them serviced before going to get their MoT.

  6. Dave permalink
    October 18, 2011 9:15 am

    Mandatory PTI has to be a good thing, lets remember it doesn’t just apply to bikes. We’ve all seen cars on the road with bald tyres or no brake lights. Many people don’t look after their vehicles, they just expect them to work. If there’s no legislation to force regular inspection (and twice a year isn’t actually a bad idea considering the mileage some vehicles cover in 12 months) then we’ll see more and more unroad worthy cars, bikes and trucks on the roads.

    In addition you go to any large gathering of bikes and you’ll find at least one or two with basic MOT failures – tyres, lights and brakes are the main culprits. And lets be honest here many vehicles are not MOT’d if the owner knows it will fail because the chances of being pulled over with virtually no roads policing is tiny. How long before the MOT system sees database related fines like we now have with VED?

    What we should be seeking is to bring other countries up to our level of yearly checks not letting our standards slip to every two years. Owning and using a vehicle is not a right, if you can’t afford (or can’t be bothered) to run and maintain one to a decent standard then you shouldn’t have one. Simple as.

  7. Teapot permalink
    October 18, 2011 12:52 pm

    I think the crucial difference here is between legislation that affects all riders and having reasonable enforcement of vehicle safety standards. The move seems to be away from any kind of enforcement (in the U.K. anyway) and leaning more towards a system where they can apply the blame more easily after the event (i.e. crash).

    I don’t particularly object to the current MoT regime, but it is getting increasingly tight. I take my Honda 90 to a garage that does the MoT sypathetically with regard to usage and machine. This seems entirely reasonable. There’s a whole world of difference between a bit of sterring head slack on a Honda 90 and on a Fireblade. What I do fear is a German style system that seems disproportionate. While, say, Italy would just carry on regardless and not enforce anything introduced, Britain would gold plate it (again) and man bikes just wouldn’t be able to get through the test for a reasonable cost.

    Shouldn’t we be calling for more enforcement to get unsafe vehicles off the road/fixed? I see the odd van belching out diesel smoke, but have never seen one pulled over…

  8. October 19, 2011 12:10 am

    Dave you say: “and twice a year isn’t actually a bad idea considering the mileage some vehicles cover in 12 months.”

    Chris says, “Those countries that do not have annual or biennial inspections do not seem to have a large problem with bikes disintegrating under users.”

    At Right To Ride EU we say. “With regards to the comment by FEMA about the frequency of PTI being “bi-annual” this is misleading.

    We were unable to find any Commission document (proposal, consultation etc) to suggest that the frequency of PTI would be twice a year.

    What we suspect is that this mistake has come from a CITA document (AUTOFORE – Study on the Future Options for Roadworthiness Enforcement in the European Union which states, “The introduction of bi-annual technical motor vehicle inspections for motorcycles with insurance marks could lead to 24 fewer deaths in accidents (…)”.

    Perhaps lost in translation was the word “Biennial” which means (an event) lasting for two years or occurring every two years.

    However this comment has caused quite a stir amongst some motorcyclists who now think that they will have to have an inspection every six months!”

    Bit of a boo-boo… Indeed!!!

  9. October 19, 2011 12:24 am

    Bit of a boo-boo

    Should have read about CITA.

    At Right To Ride EU we say. “With regards to the comment by FEMA about the frequency of PTI being “bi-annual” this is misleading.

    We were unable to find any Commission document (proposal, consultation etc) to suggest that the frequency of PTI would be twice a year.

    What we suspect is that this mistake has come from a CITA document (AUTOFORE – Study on the Future Options for Roadworthiness Enforcement in the European Union.

    http://www.cita-vehicleinspection.org/Portals/cita/autofore_study/LinkedDocuments/Pass%20fail%20rates%20and%20accidents%20vs%20PTI%20fequency.pdf

    “The introduction of bi-annual technical motor vehicle inspections for motorcycles with insurance marks could lead to 24 fewer deaths in accidents (…)”.

    Later in the same document, there is a list of countries and frequencies in which PTI is carried out, typically 3/1/1 or 5/2/2 with variations in between (see page 45).

    It would appear that CITA’s preference is 2/2/2 (i.e. every two years).

    The conclusion of the CITA document is written in very poor English (see page 47), thus we assume that our non-native English speaking colleagues at FEMA have perpetuated this faux pas based on the CITA author’s mistake.) which however highlights that CITA’s preferred option for the frequency of PTI is every two years.

    Perhaps lost in translation was the word “Biennial” which means (an event) lasting for two years or occurring every two years.

    However this comment has caused quite a stir amongst some motorcyclists who now think that they will have to have an inspection every six months!”

    Bit of a boo-boo… Indeed!!!

  10. Dave permalink
    October 19, 2011 9:32 am

    Aye well there’s the rub. A system in which the user pays – like the MOT system – is always going to be more attractive than a system where the Govt pays – like having proper proactive roads policing – so we’re a bit stuck. At least until the recession ends and getting madly into debt is ok again. It’s quite clear that in the short to medium term at least roads policing is not going to be effective and so enforcement through database is likely to be the way forward along with more punishment after the event. Which leaves us in the position that as riders we will have to become ever more responsible for our own safety as poor driving and unfit vehicles go unchecked.

    And while I am all for banning people and issuing fines for various driving offence what are the real implications for this? More people driving without a licence? And if you fine a motorist who is already skint where will they find the money from? Scrimp further on vehicle maintenance perhaps? A better solution might be the evolution of the driver improvement schemes into a proper education package for those found to be lacking in the skill or inclination to use the roads properly and safely with the threat of bans and big fines for further infringements.

  11. Dave permalink
    October 21, 2011 10:22 am

    Relax Trev, I was only joking about twice yearly inspections, but consider the rep mobiles out there that do 60 or 70 k a year. Would we really want to see them MOT’d only every 120 or 140 000 miles? How much wear in bearings, brakes, tyres, etc would get ignored even on lower mileage vehicles. Bikes and cars don’t disintigrate underneath a rider or driver but tyres, bearings, brakes and lights wear out and brake lines and cables corrode. How many people actually check any of that on a regular basis?

    Teapot, if we start having one rule for one and one rule for another that’s where the system falls down and stops working. We have a set of MOT passes and fails, regardless of the vehicle. If an MOT tester passes one slightly dodgy bike or car where does it stop? Would you want to know that the tester who passes the C90 with a bit of play thinks it’s ok for the Transit in next to have virtually worn pads or one bald tyre beacuse the driver swears he’s replacing them next week?

  12. Elaine permalink
    October 23, 2011 8:01 pm

    Ian – just to make a point, the 0.3% is bollocks – because that figure means all vehicles including cars…. Anyway, I think we’re missing a trick here. Firstly MoT is accepted in this country as a means of having a yearly “spring cleaning” and you would be hard pressed to convince even the most experienced rider that it’s not a good thing. We might argue that the testers could improve, I wouldn’t disagree. We can also argue that the big problem is car drivers not looking. I would disagree with the stats on that and be more inclined to a 50/50 responsibility. But in the end, I think it’s time we all took a deep breath. I’m absolutely fed up with – it’s the cager’s fault or the post was in the wrong place, the roads were crap and so forth. It’s a nasty old world out there and perhaps we just need to realise that and learn more. The Aussies have put out a series of videos that focus on these issues. The message is that we have to be responsible – because nobody else will be. http://www.mccofnsw.org.au/a/332.html

    • Ian Cook permalink
      October 24, 2011 7:43 am

      You’re absolutely right – it hurts just as much whoever’s fault it was. However, my point is about where to invest limited resources to give the maximum safety improvement with the minimum of bureaucracy, intrusion & hassle. Complex, official, administrative, poorly-thought-out, intrusive, compulsory initiatives are rarely if ever, good value.
      No argument with regular road-worthiness testing – the current UK MoT’s about right, I believe. Just look at the big picture though and target cash/resources for most effect, not maximum officialdom.

      • Elaine permalink
        October 25, 2011 12:33 am

        Ian, I won’t argue with you on that point. Indeed the whole thrust of the proposals has moved from what was intended to be a simplification of regulations to a mire of “junk”. However, it just seems – to me at least – that everybody has got themselves in such a state of trying to work out what it is we actually debating.

        You know better than anybody about all the bullshit that went on with the 3DLD and just how frustrated we all were because nobody gave a shit until it was too late and because then we were effectively up against the very people that were supposed to be representing us. So it is somewhat ironic that the UNECE is now telling the Commission that they’ve screwed up and may need to change their legislation.

        Trev and I replied to the DfT’s consultation on the Commission’s latest proposal and the basis of our argument was very simple. The Commission had signed up to the CARS21 report’s recommendations with regards to the proposals for 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles etc then completely ignored it. The basis of our argument was that CARS21 recommendations stated very clearly (amongst other things) that

        “All automotive legislation should be performance-oriented, technology-neutral, and overprescriptive regulations should be avoided.
        The principle that regulations should only fix objectives in terms of measurable performances, not solutions, should be strictly respected. If there are exceptions, the criteria to accept them should be given”
        “Well-designed voluntary agreements, particularly those that encourage changes in consumer behaviour, can in some cases deliver public interest objectives in a quick and effective way”.

        The Commission paid a shedload of money for research on issues such as OBD and anti-tampering and then completely ignored the results because they weren’t what they wanted to hear. The whole argument about ABS which according to the Commission, IMCO rapporteur and even the DfT is that this will save 20% more lives. How naive is that!

        It’s just so frustrating to focus on specific issues to then have them all mixed up with other stuff – e.g. Hi Viz – it ain’t going to happen in the UK, it’s already in the Highway Code anyway. Then there’s PTI which at this point in time is not even on the table! There was a Commission consultation on PTI and that’s as far as it went. As and when the Commission decides to “harmonize” PTI then we need to see what those proposals are.

        However within the latest proposals regarding emissions, there is a place for the MoT – just as they are now doing for cars. I don’t see that as a problem.

        The reality is that we desperately need to have a sound understanding of what the issues are – we need technically competent people who actually know what they are talking about to argue in our defense and inform people clearly. As Trevor wrote in an article we need a Master Class.

        Our final comment to the DfT’s consultation was

        “…we have major concerns due to where the proposal sits at present within the legislative process. It is our understanding that the proposal is scheduled to be voted on before the regulations, delegated acts and the adoption of harmonised international standards, have been agreed on. Therefore in our opinion, all these issues need to be formulated before any agreement or alignment within the Council of Ministers and before any vote within the EU parliament takes place regarding the Commission’s proposal and subsequent amendments put forward by the IMCO committee. Failure to do so would create an impossible situation whereby the motorcycle industry, consumers and member state governments are not able to have a clear understanding of what the simplification of this regulation actually entails”. Simples….

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