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UK

13/10/2021

The National Motorcyclists Council (NMC) has called for radical changes to the UK’s motorcycle licence testing and training regime.

NMC analysis says that changes introduced from 2009 onwards have failed to make motorcycling safer, in the majority of seven statistical measures in the area of headline casualty numbers and casualty rates per mile travelled. Indeed, the number of riders killed or seriously injured has actually risen.

Until February 2021, motorcycle rider licencing was subject to regulations set by EU directives, with various versions in place over the UK’s EU membership period. The current directive, known as 3DLD, ceased to apply in the UK on 31 January 2021.

Although UK licences remain aligned to European law, there is now an opportunity to review and revise the regulations to better suit UK circumstances, under the framework set by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

The NMC’s position is based on the following principle: to make the licensing regime easier to understand and access, while maintaining appropriate high road safety standards in training. It doesn’t propose a dilution of testing and training standards, but it does propose a cut in the amount of arbitrary ‘box-ticking’ bureaucratic steps that faces novice motorcyclists. Best practices need to be applied more intelligently, so that riders are incentivised and encouraged to get a full licence.

NMC executive director Craig Carey-Clinch summed up: “Now that the UK has left the EU, there is an opportunity to create a system that is easier for novice riders to understand, is less bureaucratic and provides greater reward for passing the test on smaller bikes — while retaining high standards and providing a boost to the motorcycle training sector.

“We have an opportunity to reset motorcycle training and testing to fit our traffic environment. Given that the government is currently considering future road safety policy, we believe our proposals are timely and start an overdue debate.”

PROPOSED CHANGES

• Improved CBT syllabus. Theory and hazard perception test to be taken and passed before CBT.

• Licencing incentivisation, via training upgrades from a lower to a higher category, rather than repeat testing to move between licence categories on the progressive licencing route.

• Each licencing step to allow access to machines up to the minimum test vehicle specification for the next category of licence (to be ridden on L-plates). This should also apply to those who gain full moped licences aged 16.

• Return to a single-event test, rather than the current two-part format.

• Abolition of A2 licence. Passing the motorcycle test for A1 to grant access to an A licence. However, as per the EU pre-2009 2DLD, this licence will be restricted, gaining access to current A2 specification machines. The restriction will be lifted once riders complete a compulsory skills training course — available from one year after the test is passed.

• Direct access minimum age to return to 21.

• Access to post-test training also needs further incentivisation • Minimum licence test vehicle specification for electric motorcycles needs to be redefined for each licencing category.

• All changes to to maintain alignment with the Vienna Convention and high overall safety standards, to ensure the continued exchangeability of licences for those moving away from the UK.