New Motorcycle Test Under Fire After Series Of Accidents

May 27, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The government and the DSA is under increasing pressure to rethink the new motorcycle test after a series of accidents in it’s first few weeks.

On the very first day one young man, in South Yorkshire, suffered a broken arm after crashing while trying to slow in the wet immediately following the new ‘swerve’ manoeuvre, and since then 14 more accidents have been reported.  There was one additional, as yet unreported, accident yesterday when a young lady training at my old bike school also fell off doing the same manoeuvre.  Luckily she was not hurt but was shaken up and bruised.

Instructors, and bikers who have emailed the BBC, have said that trying to perform such a manoeuvre at 31.2 mph (50 kph), while possibly suffering from test nerves, is dangerous, especially when performed on a wet surface.

While the test would probably be fine when done in the dry, new riders who may be tempted to brake and swerve at the same time are likely to come a cropper when trying to do this in the wet.  Bikers are taught very early on in their training that braking when not going in a straight line is a BAD thing to do, and even though the trainees taking their tests are undoubtedly taught the same thing, test nerves may be getting the better of them.

Dexterity Motorcycle Training in Kent tried the test out two years before it was implemented and had this to say about the swerve manoeuvre

The swerve/avoidance test – just simply getting up to the required speed (as on my first run) will catch some out, others will swerve and brake too soon and too hard simultaneously with the front brake and bin it.

Somewhat prophetic words I think, considering what is happening on the tests now.

Jeff Stone of the British Motorcycle Federation had this to say

“There is no real argument with the actual test, but the DSA really do have to take note of ‘real world’ conditions.

“A brake and swerve manoeuvre on a wet road is fraught with danger for even an experienced motorcyclist, so there needs to be a safer option for inclement weather conditions.”

and Paul Turner of the Motorcycle Action Group added

“We don’t mind improvements in the test which will make for better riders, but putting people at risk during the test is ludicrous.”

Expecting novice riders to perform the manoeuvre at the same speed whether it is sunny or chucking it down is going against the instruction we are given as learner riders.  All riders are taught to ride according to the prevailing conditions, something which helps us to stay as safe as we can out on the roads.  We are taught to slow down in the wet, and increase stopping distances, but the DSA is overturning the training and asking new riders to hammer it coming out of a bend towards the swerve part of the test!

Phil Woolley, 28, of Liverpool, tells how he failed the test after completing the swerve slightly below the required speed.  He reckons the size of the test centre makes it difficult to get up to 50 kph without accelerating unsafely.  He says

“Do it at a controlled speed and you will almost certainly fail,” he said. “Or you just floor it as hard as you can and there is a good chance you will pass, but also a risk you will come off.”

Boy, am I glad I passed my test in February 2008, before the new test came into force.  I wouldn’t want to be tackling the new test.

Original Story


Great Start To The New Motorcycle Test

April 30, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The new ‘Super Test Centre’ at Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has come under fire this morning after the first candidate crashed his bike and broke his arm!

The DSA’s new centre opened for motorcycle tests on Monday for the new part one of the motorcycle test which must be taken off road due to that fact that some of the manoeuvres have to be done at 31mph.

Concerns are being voiced up and down the country by riding instructors after finding out that the test moves HAVE to be carried out at the same speed and over the same distances, whether it’s a nice sunny day or chucking it down with rain!  Instructors have been told that the surface is fitted with a super sticky compound which makes it safe in all weathers.

John Atkin, spokesman for the DSA, has said of the test centres:

“The areas used for the motorcycle manoeuvres have been tested thoroughly in both wet and dry conditions and provide a safe environment for the candidate. Tests have continued successfully at Rotherham since this happened.

I personally would like to know who is actually testing these centres.  Is it experienced riders who may very well be able to cope with doing these kinds of exercises, or is it novice riders who have recently learned to ride a bike? It would be interesting to find out.

The instructor who trained the man who was injured said the following

“Adam did his swerve manoeuvres and put his brakes on so he could stop in the required distance.
“But the back end of the bike swerved round and threw him off, leaving him with a very nasty break to his arm which needs surgery.
“All the instructors around here agree this is a joke. It’s common sense that you wouldn’t ride the same in the wet. They’ve just thrown common sense out of the window.

On the same day at the same centre, another young man fell from his bike, and was uninjured, and a girl failed the test, in the pouring rain, for being 1kph too slow.

I don’t know about the rest of you,  but if it’s raining I slow down on my bike and yet the DSA is expecting new riders to carry out manoeuvres at the same speed as you would in the dry!  It just doesn’t seem right.  Plus, if you think about this, new riders will be suffering from ‘test nerves’, I know I was when I took my test and this may well be a contributing factor.

I really feel for anyone looking at taking their test now, it can be done but it not an experience I would want to go through.  I’m just glad I passed my test before this was bought into effect!

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