Motorcycle Test Reported To Be In Crisis

December 9, 2010

Now don’t get me wrong, I know there are fewer people taking their bike test since the new one was bought out but I do have issues with the way this is being reported.  Here is the article as it’s being reported online on the Motorcycle News website.

A crisis hitting the number of people taking the motorcycle test is even deeper than previously feared, latest figures show.

Eighteen months after a new Europe-wide test was introduced, the number of people taking it was still barely half the former level.

When bookings dropped drastically following the changeover last year, the Driving Standards Agency said it was temporary and demand would “settle at usual levels again in 2010/11”.

But new DSA figures point to a long-term decline.

In the 16 months leading up to the introduction of the new exam in April 2009, 130,498 people took the old test, a rate of 8156 a month.

But in the 18 months following the changeover, only 73,508 people completed the new test, 4083 a month and almost half the earlier rate.

The Government is conducting a review of the test, which was originally intended to reach conclusions by autumn.

Roads minister Mike Penning said: “The review of the motorcycle test is a top priority for me because I want to make sure that we have a test which prepares bikers properly for the road.

“We have been working with the motorcycle training industry and others to make sure that we are taking all views into account and we will report on findings as soon as possible.”

My problem is in the way these figures are being presented (sorry MCN).

As a lot of you know, the new test was originally scheduled to start in September 2008 but, because of bungling incompetance, so few of the new test centres were ready for use, the implementation of the test was put back about 6 months.  In the lead up to September 2008 thousands upon thousands of people decided to get their bike licence under the old test regime and so booked lessons and their test.  I should know,  I was one of them!!!  I took one look at the new test and thought “S*d that!!!”

During 2008, riding schools all over the country were inundated with trainees learning to ride, which definately skews the figures somewhat, as in a normal riding year fewer people would be taking their test.  Then the test was put back 6 months so that more of the new test centres could be made ready, and those who thought they had missed the original deadline were given a life line and once again the riding schools were booked solid, even though it was winter

According to the DSA  some 130,498 people took their test in the 18 months leading up to the change of test.  I’m pretty damn certain a sizeable number of those were riders who wanted to take the old style test and not the new one.

Now, since the new test started 18 months ago the DSA say that just 73,508 people have taken it, a drop of almost 50% on the previous figures.

BUT…… Seeing as the figures from September 2007 until April 2009 are hardly indicative of the number of people taking their bike test during a ‘normal’ 16 month period, I don’t see how they can be reliably compared with those from May 2009 up until late 2010.

Unless of course you’re attempting to make things look worse than they are 😉

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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


Speed Camera Boss Gets Ban For Doing 102 Mph!

May 6, 2009

I’m sorry but I really had to giggle when I read this story.  Talk about justice!

Tom Riall, Chief Executive of Serco, the company responsible for the installation and maintenence of speed cameras was clocked, in January 2009, doing 102 mph on the eastbound side of the A14.  This section of dual carriageway has a speed limit of 70 mph!

Riall has previous motoring convictions from 2006 and 2007, one of which was also for speeding and told magistrates that a potential ban would be a significant punsihment on him as an individual, and may affect the possibility of keeping his children in their current private schools.  He estimated that it would cost in the region of £30,000 to hire 2 personal drivers for the duration of a 6 month ban.

He asked if the magistrates would consider not giving him a penalty which would take him past the 12 point mark, which would of course lead to an automatic ban.  He also pointed out that the offence had caused him considerable personal embarrassment… Awwwww… Poor man!

I’m sorry but speeding at that level does deserve punishment, no matter who you are and the magistrates rejected his plea and put 6 points on his licence and also imposed a £300 fine. As a result of the 6 points being added to his licence, Riall now faces a 6 month driving ban.

Just because you are the person who’s company puts the speed cameras all around the UK, does not mean you are above the law and should be entitled to special treatment.  Luckily for him, he seems to be in a position where he can pay for drivers to chauffeur him about, but how many of us ‘lesser mortals’ are in that position.  How many people have lost their jobs as a result of speeding convictions?

I do feel that the law is somewhat rigid on the question of speeding though.  While I do not condone speeding I cannot see the point of convicting people for going over the speed limit if there is no one else travelling on the same bit of road as yourself.  Surely some level of common sense can be used if they are not too much in excess of the posted limit!

But then again maybe not, what do you think?

Full Story


Faulty Speed Cameras Could Wipe Out Speeding Convictions

February 5, 2009

This is an interesting snippet of news..

Apparently there is a landmark case being heard in a Manchester court at the moment, which if it is won may mean the return of £600 million in speeding fines and fees.

The case is being brought by a gentleman called Aitken Brotherstone who is adamant that the LTI 20/20 Speedscope laser gun, which apparently clocked him doing 52 in a 40 zone had provided an accurate reading. 

Part of his defence is that all the speed cameras introduced in the UK since 1992 are illegal due to the way in which the law introducing them was initially implemented.  His defence barrister is claiming that each successive Home Secretary since Michael Howard had implemented their own schemes of ministerial approval for speed cameras, and were in the wrong to pass speed camera devices, such as the LTI 20/20 without parliamentary scrutiny.

Could you imagine it if he does win?  How many people will have speeding fines returned to them? Plus how about all those points being taken back off their driving licences! And don’t forget about bans being lifted!!

I think I may be very interesting indeed if he does win! Chaos at it’s best!

I will keep you informed as and when more news is released about this!


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