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

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2009 Motorcycle Test – Test Can Now Be Split

February 3, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate It has been announced by Jim Fitzpatrick, our Roads Minister, that from 27th April 2009 learner motorcyclists will be able to take the two parts of the new 2009 motorcycle tests on different days if they want to. 

This means that they will be able to take the new manoeuvres part of the test at one of the specially built test centres, and then take the on road section of the test at an existing test centre, probably closer to home, is they choose.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) seriously messed up last year with the building of these new test centres, as not enough of them were completed in time for the original launch in October 2008. 

Personally I reckon they know there won’t be enough of the new test centre’s open by March 30th 2009 (Why am I not surprised?)and this is the way it is being dealt with this time.

Instead of clogging up the test centres, and having the examiners do both parts of the test on each appointment, I’m wondering if they will ‘advise’ people to do the second part of the test at the centre they would have had it at before the new test came in. 

At the end of the day I still don’t believe the new test launch is going to be smooth, if anything I feel sorry for anyone looking at taking their test after the cut off date.  I reckon it’s going to be a nightmare!  I can’t see how they can postpone the new test launch yet again, without looking like inept idiots!

There are still huge area’s of the country not covered by one of these new test centres, remember new riders were not ‘supposed’ to have to ride more than 20 miles to their motorbike test.  Some are still going to have to ride a lot further and personally I really feel for them.  Imagine those poor riders who have only just learned to ride and are having to go 40 miles through rush hour traffic to take their test early in the day! Its madness!!

Talk about a baptism by fire!

While rider groups have welcomed the news announced yesterday, they, like me, are still concerned about the distances some people will have to travel.

It’s not going to be fun for some of the new riders out there!

 

Please check out my other entries about the 2009 Motorcycle Test

Countdown To The New Motorcycle test.. Again!

New Motorcycle Test Centres – Updated List

Motorcycle Tests To Be Cancelled On Cold Days