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DVSA consults on proposed changes to CBT

The Department for Transport (DfT) and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) are looking at how CBT can be changed to strengthen the structure and delivery of the courses and ensure learner riders are better prepared to ride safely on the public roads.

This consultation does not propose any changes to the syllabus of the course. However, as a result of the changes to the practical test and the increasing numbers of new young riders who do not take a test and who feature in the casualty statistics – in 2013, motorcyclists accounted for 22 per cent of all road-user deaths despite representing only one per cent of vehicle traffic; and 19 per cent of all reported motorcycle casualties involved young riders aged 19 and under – it is now appropriate to review the delivery of CBT.

The DfT and the DVSA recently commissioned research among trainers and learner motorcyclists to gain a better understanding of who is taking CBT and to gather views on their experiences of providing the training or taking their CBT, including how CBT might be improved.

The full pdf version is available at

Here is an abridged version of the proposals:

1. Align training with the National Standard for Driver and Rider Training framework and develop training materials to reflect those standards.

1.1 Why? We strengthened the CBT training guidance in 2012, to better align with the National Standard for Driver and Rider Training and although more trainers are becoming familiar with the Standards, they are not always fully incorporated into training methods. The Standard sets out the knowledge, skills and understanding that instructors need to deliver successful learning to trainees. It talks about instructors delivering training using a ‘client-centred’ approach. The Standard talks mainly about the skills, knowledge and understanding required working ‘on bike’ but it also acknowledges that for motorcycle instructors, group delivery in a classroom (or similar training environment) is a core skill.

1.2 We are also keen to promote the sharing of good practice and training techniques between instructors. There is currently no established network or method for trainers to share knowledge and best practice about CBT with other trainers.

1.4 We recognise that some trainers may need support to develop practical training techniques which focus on ‘how’ riding skills are taught and how to adapt training styles to suit the ability of the trainee.

1.5 We will encourage instructors and training industry stakeholders to work in partnership and take ownership of creating new training materials that reflect the Standard. Instructors and industry training bodies may wish to consider setting up network groups which will allow trainers to share best practice in both theory and practical training.

1.7 We anticipate that improving trainers’ knowledge about good working practices and training methods will lead to them becoming standard ways of working throughout the industry and so increase professional standards among trainers, so that trainees are better prepared for riding on the road.


2. Ensure training is tailored to suit the individual learning needs and skill levels of each trainee. This includes theoretical knowledge and ensuring that during the on road ride trainees have demonstrated their competence to ride unaccompanied.

2.6 As part of the tailored approach to training, we believe it is important to address any gaps in a trainees’ theoretical knowledge before the practical part of the course begins. Trainees do not have to pass the full theory test before undertaking CBT. We are not currently proposing to mandate trainees to do so, as this would require amendments to regulations. This may, however, be something we consider in the long term.

2.7 We propose to encourage trainers to conduct an assessment of the trainee’s knowledge of theory matters, before the course begins or as part of the course. DVSA could provide access to theory test learning materials so that trainers can develop an assessment to evaluate the trainee’s knowledge; or, the training industry may wish to consider developing a tool to support this.

We want to encourage instructors and trainees to recognise that a minimum standard of riding must be demonstrated before they can successfully complete CBT and that some learners may take longer and need more training to reach that standard.

We believe this can be achieved by encouraging both trainees and instructors to recognise that the two hour on-road riding element is the minimum requirement, and not necessarily the default position.

Trainees need to move away from the idea that simply completing a day’s course will automatically mean that they are fully competent to ride a moped or small motorcycle unaccompanied. This is particularly relevant for young riders, very few of whom go on to take a motorcycle test, a situation that may be an unintended consequence of the 3rd Directive which limits the size and power of machines that younger riders can ride.


3.2 We believe that it’s important to raise public awareness about how to choose a good trainer, what they need to know about the Highway Code, suitable protective clothing and what to expect from CBT in general so they are better prepared to take the course.

3.6 Trainees also need to be able to identify which trainers DVSA has identified as delivering quality training, so that they can be confident they will receive the training that best suits their learning style and is appropriate for their needs.

3.7 We would be interested in suggestions on how the ‘find your nearest motorcycle instructor’ on GOV.UK could be used as a platform for promoting the Approved Training Bodies (ATB) who demonstrate best practice and provide a quality service.


4. Revise the standards check so that it supports a risk-based approach to quality assurance and earned recognition for good trainers, which they can use to promote and endorse their skills

We also think it’s important that the instructors who consistently deliver good quality training, tailored to the trainee, are recognised for this. Instructors need to be able to promote this to prospective trainees and the trainee should also have the means to identify those instructors.

DVSA intends to talk to the training industry to identify what information they need to better understand the new requirements of the standards check.

4.4 Currently only CBT training is subject to quality and compliance checks. We realise that for many trainers most of their training activity is Direct Access Scheme training (DAS) on larger motorcycles. We would like to invite trainers to undertake, on a voluntary basis, standards checks for DAS training.

4.5 We believe introducing a system of ‘earned recognition’ for training schools who: • demonstrate best training practice, • provide a quality service, • achieve better than satisfactory standards check results, and • voluntarily undertake DAS standards checks; will help raise training standards. DVSA would promote this ‘earned recognition’ status in conjunction with the training industry and through use of ‘find your nearest motorcycle instructor’ on GOV.UK

4.6 We would be interested in views on how ‘earned recognition’ might work in practice, who should be responsible for defining a quality service standard and how that standard would be measured.


5. Revise the qualification process for motorcycle instructors

5.1 Why? The current qualification assessments are not aligned to the National Standard for Driver and Rider Training. The focus should be on ‘how’ training is delivered and the manner in which trainers identify and assess trainees’ learning styles and needs, rather than an assessment based on topics covered.

5.2 We would welcome thoughts on how and where trainer assessments could be delivered in addition to providing them at DVSA’s training academy in Cardington.

5.3 How? We intend to review the current qualification process. We will consult fully on proposals in the future. In the meantime our initial proposals are set out in Annex B. We welcome your views on these and any suggestions you may have.


6. Future Considerations

We would also welcome your views on a number of potential longer term proposals, some of which may need regulatory changes that will take time to introduce.

6.1 Progressive Access

The 3rd Driving Licence Directive makes provision for progressive access to riding larger motorcycles by way of training. At the time we consulted on those and other matters, the costs to develop IT systems to record riders’ training progression were prohibitive and this option was rejected. There were also concerns about the framework to enable this training to be quality assured.

6.2 Since then, and particularly following the merger of DSA and VOSA, to form DVSA, there are other IT systems available which may offer potential. It may be possible to adapt one of the existing systems to record the progressive training.

6.4 Currently only CBT and DAS training are covered by regulations. A person providing any other instruction is not required to be a certified instructor and is not subject to any standards checks. At best, trainees risk receiving incomplete training and at worst, training that is dangerous and leaves them vulnerable.

6.5 We have suggested (paragraph 4.4) that DAS instructors voluntarily undertake standards checks. To make that a mandatory requirement will require amendments to the regulations. However, it has been suggested that any motorcycle training, including progressive access training, should only be provided by certified instructors who are subject to regulations. We would welcome views on introducing quality assurance for all types of motorcycle licence acquisition training.

6.6 Down-trained instructors

Approximately 25% of the 2500 registered CBT trainers are down-trained instructors. These are trainers who have been trained by their ATB. This seems to be a suitable time to ask whether the training industry and motorcycle community have confidence in the abilities and quality of training provided by ‘down-trained’ instructors, particularly in light of the proposals in this paper. It would be sensible to consider the scope and duration of the down-trained instructor certificate which is currently valid for four years.

6.7 Restricting riding to automatic motorcycles if CBT was taken on an automatic.

6.8 It is likely we would need to amend regulations to restrict riders undertaking CBT on an automatic machine to riding only an automatic until either an ‘upgrade’ training session or another CBT on a geared motorcycle has been completed. Alternatively, the CBT certificate could be noted that the course was completed on an automatic machine and a strong recommendation that further training be undertaken if the holder intends to ride a geared motorcycle.

6.10 Flexible approach to CBT

The research found that many trainers thought a flexible approach should be available to trainees who show they already have a thorough knowledge of the Highway Code and driving theory matters. They suggested that these riders be exempt from the theory elements. Some trainers also thought that repeat CBT candidates, who might be considered as experienced riders, should be able to demonstrate continued competence by only undertaking the on-road ride element of the course. To introduce this we would need to amend regulations. We would be interested in views on how this might work in practice.

6.11 DVSA and the Government have consistently said that learner riders should develop their skills and go on to take a test for a full motorcycle licence, rather than continue as ‘lifelong learners’. We are concerned that this option could have the effect of encouraging this and could discourage new riders from taking further training in preparation for taking their motorcycle test.

6.12 Validity period of CBT certificate Limiting the validity period of the DL196 CBT certificate might encourage more riders to go on and take more training and their motorcycle tests. One suggestion has been for a rider’s first CBT certificate to remain valid for two years but thereafter be reduced to one year. We would be interested in views on this.

The consultation period began on 10 March 2015 and will run until 21 April 2015. 

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