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


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!

Full Story


Motorcycle Groups Warning Of Test Chaos

April 4, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The new motorcycle test comes into effect at the end of this month, and motorcycle groups are warning that the system is not sufficiently geared up to avoid chaos.

The DSA’s decision to make the test available at just 66 centres nationwide, instead of the previous 260+, will make it more difficult to get a test booked, and that’s before any of these new riders actually faces the ride to get to one of the new ‘test super centres’.

As things stand at the moment most tests are booked as part of a package offered by training schools, courses such as the DAS (Direct Access) course and availability has always been pretty good.  But after the introduction of the new test a greater number of training establishments will be sharing the new test centres, which will result in many fewer bookings for each riding school.

Many riding schools must now be doubting how secure their futures are when taking the the current status of the new test centres into account.  Some are reporting that the numbers of learners they may be able to book in for tests may be reduced by half.  How long are riding schools going to be able to continue with that kind of a drop in the revenue?

Plus, if take into consideration the increases in fees imposed by the DSA in recent months you will begin to wonder how many people will actually look at taking their bike test now.  Additionally fees for taking riding courses will no doubt go up as schools have to cover the costs of getting learner riders to the test centres.  Some new riders, already nervous at the prospect of thaking their test ,may face a journey of 45 minutes or more just to get to their test centre.

The implementation of the new test was delayed by 6 months last September as only 38 of the 66 new test centres was ready for business.  Since last September just 6 new ones have been added and the remaining 22 areas have only temporary or weekend only test centres.  All of my local riding schools now face sharing a test centre which is only open on Tuesdays!!! It’s a joke!

Considering the new test was implemented to increase rider safety, there are fears that a growing number of riders will be put off going the new test route and will just take to the road without a licence.

Well done DSA.. A gold medal is coming your way.. for making a right ba**s up of this!

Full story


Dyno Your Bike For Just £15 At Demon Tweeks, Wrexham

March 8, 2009

moz-screenshot-3If you pop along to Demon Tweeks, Wrexham, on Saturday 14th March you will have the opportunity of running your bike on a dyno for the absolutely bargain price of £15 per run.

The Dynojet technicians will be there, with the latest dyno equipped race truck to provide power runs and advise you on the set up of your bike.

The store will be open from 8.30am until 5.30pm and they suggest getting there early to avoid being disappointed.

So, if you want to find out how your bike is performing, and you live within riding distance, I’d suggest you pop along and get your bike tested.

Link to Store – with address, map and directions

Photo courtesy of Demon Tweeks

HOT NEWS – New Motorcycle Test Implementation Date Changes

February 21, 2009

motorcyclelplate.jpgI was at one of my local bike shops, who also does training,  this morning and was reliably informed that the FINAL date for taking the old motorcycle test has been put back now until FRIDAY 24th APRIL.

Apparently this is to allow for the implementation of the new test to come in more smoothly!

So if you are looking at trying to take your motorcycle test before the new one comes into effect it now looks like you have a few extra weeks in which to take the old style test.

Ring your local training school now if you want to be in with a chance of getting your test booked before Friday April 24th, they are getting booked solid.