June 19 2009.

The Motor Cycle Industry Association and other bodies have welcomed the appointment of Lord Adonis as Secretary of State for Transport by urging him to go back to the drawing board on motorcycle testing and training. The MCI has asked Adonis to sort out the problems with the new two-part motorcycle test before taking any action on the further changes to training and testing required by the 3rd European Directive on Driving Licences.

Flaws in the implementation of the European 2nd Directive on Driving Licences, most seriously, the continuing lack of full time multi-purpose test centres and the immediate need to improve safety during the Module One motorcycle test, are having a devastating impact on rider training and testing, the industry has told Lord Adonis.

Despite numerous representations, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has shown little sign of the flexible thinking that is required to interpret the legislation in a way that allows safe delivery of the test from a larger number of sites.

According to the industry, the new test is gaining a reputation of being dangerous and this needs correcting before lasting damage is done to testing and training. Even though the motorcycle community forwarded proposals to the DSA to improve safety on the Module One test, the Agency has done little more than acknowledge receipt of the proposals. This is clearly unacceptable and is putting the training industry, and road safety as a whole, at risk.

Lord Adonis has been urged to intervene to rectify the existing situation before the focus is turned to the consultation on the European Third Directive on Driving Licences (3DLD), due for implementation by 2013.

A key part of the Third Directive is an option for EU Member States to choose between either training or testing as the means for motorcyclists to move up the ladder of new motorcycle licence categories.

It is clear from independent research that effective training on road craft and attitudes to riding are more likely to improve safety than repeatedly testing machine skills. However, even before launching the consultation, the DSA seem to have made their minds up in favour of testing, presenting inflated estimates of the cost of training. The MCI disputes the financial estimates and believes that the choice between training and testing should be made on the basis of which will best promote road safety.

The consultation may also propose that learner motorcyclists should lose their right to ride unaccompanied on L-plates.

The MCI has warned Lord Adonis that these measures would be extremely damaging to the industry and the vitality of motorcycling in the UK. As an alternative, the motorcycle community has proposed:-

That the consultation on the motorcycle aspects of 3DLD is delayed by three months. This will allow a pause for reflection and give time for a proper consideration of what needs to be achieved from the testing and training regime under the context of 3DLD.

The consultation on the motorcycle specific aspects of 3DLD is separated from the main body of the consultation. This will allow the consultation of the non motorcycle aspects of 3DLD to go ahead in July

Sheila Rainger, MCI spokesperson said, "3DLD is intended to create better trained riders and safer motorcycling. But this outcome will depend on how the proposals are implemented. The motorcycle community cannot afford a repeat of the fundamental mistakes that were made when 2DLD was implemented.

"Evidence shows that testing alone will not produce safer, more competent riders. 3DLD is an opportunity to put a training-based licensing system in place that will genuinely cut rider casualties and improve road safety - but it must be done properly and in genuine co-operation with the motorcycle community, particularly with the trainers who will be asked to deliver any new system.

"We hope that the new Secretary of State will understand the need to take decisive action to repair the damage that is being done to the new testing regime and the image of the current motorcycle test. We hope that government will give very serious consideration to industry's proposals and take the opportunity to create a training and testing system that will create safer riders, not just fewer riders."