Now, this news is going to make it interesting next winter if you are going to be taking your motorcycle test. Apparently the DSA has decided that tests will not take place on days when there is cold enough to put down a preventative layer of road salt at the new test centres.
At the moment it is at the examiners discretion as to whether tests take place or not, depending on the weather. But examiners will lose the right to choose whether tests will go ahead or not. Apparently there is to be no gritting what so ever at the new test centres and candidates will be turned away and told to rebook their tests for another day. And it has started already, one instructor in Leicester had the training sessions he had booked at one of the new test sites cancelled due to pockets of ice on the site. He was told by the examiner that it was unsafe to use and that they were not allowed to put any grit on the surface to make it safe to ride on.
Now considering the British weather this could cause enormous problems for anyone wanting to take their motorcycle test in the winter. According to grit manufacturers roads can need gritting between 40 and 120 times a year, depending on where in the country you are, and frost can occur between 35 and 80 times during a normal winter.
Considering that riding lessons are supposed to prepare us for a safe riding career and the motorcycle test is supposed to show the examiner that as future motorcyclists we can ride in a safe manner, no matter what may occur during the test, I cannot see that closing the test centres when conditions require road salt will make us better riders. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not have a problem with tests being cancelled if the weather conditions are bad, but if a layer of salt means the roads are safe enough to ride on then what is the problem? After all car tests still take place if the road has been gritted and the examiner considers it safe to drive.
My motorcycle test took place in the pouring rain, it absolutely hammered it down but by passing in conditions like that I was able to show the examiner that I could cope perfectly well when the conditions were definitely less than ideal. Typically it stopped raining about ten minutes after my test had finished!
I’m sitting here wondering if will it mean that riding schools will cut back on classes during the winter as they run the risk of having test after test postponed. If they are talking of cancelling tests through out the winter will it mean that people will be less likely to take their motorcycle test? If that is the case and they have no experience of riding a smaller bike in dodgy weather, how on earth will they cope the following winter on a bigger, faster bike once they have passed their tests?
Unfortunately, the simple answer is that they won’t!
Either that or you will only see the new riders out on their motorbikes in the summer!
As I have said in previous posts on here, I only learned to ride in 2007 and I rode all through the winter to 2008 on my 125cc motorbike until I passed my test in February 2008. The winters riding did me no end of good. I learned how to control a controllable sized bike in sub-zero temperatures on the country roads I used to get to work. It has given me something which will definitely benefit me in years to come.. Experience! How to ride safely in very cold conditions.
Its possible that while this will be a complete pain for the learner riders, the riding schools may benefit from this though. Imagine you have your riding lessons, you are trained to the required standard and on the morning of your test it is cancelled. Now chances are that it will be a few weeks by the time that a slot is available for a re-test and by then you will ‘have gone off the boil’ as it were, and you may need a refresher to make sure you are still at test standard! And that will cost more money! Who is going to be the loser then, certainly not the DSA and I really don’t think the riding schools will lose out either. After all we pay for their time, and refresher sessions take time.
The loser will be the learner rider, in more ways than one.