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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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!

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No Going Out On My Motorbike Today!

February 5, 2009

 After all the weather warnings of the last few days, and England shutting down all because of a butterfly farting somewhere and causing an inch of snow here.

It all cleared enough yesterday for me to be able to go out on my bike. WOOHOO 🙂

There weren’t any real weather warnings last night but I reckon the butterfly must have had beans for dinner last night, as we woke up to this little lot this morning 😦

I Don't Think I Will Be Taking The Bike Out Today!

I Don't Think I Will Be Taking The Bike Out Today!

We had more snow overnight that the last few days put together, so my motorbike will be staying tucked up in the garage!

Be careful out there if you do have to go out.


Motorcycle Tests To Be Cancelled On Cold Days

January 16, 2009

l-plates1Now, 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.


Road Salt.. And It’s Effects..

January 6, 2009

gritting-lorry

Now we all know that road salt is bad for our bikes, and our riding gear but there is another effect it has of which many of you, especially anybody new to riding a motorbike, may not be aware. The salt gets into the road surface and acts as a lubricant between the road surface and your tyre. Unfortunately you will probably only realise this when you are negotiating a bend, a roundabout or some other hazard!

So, just to be on the safe side its probably best to keep your speed down for a while after the roads have been salted and the temperatures have gone up enough for the road surface not to be frozen anymore.

It will take quite a considerable amount of rain to completely wash the salt from the roads and until then they may be slippery from the salt residue.

Just be careful, okay J

 


Check Your Tyre Pressures!

January 5, 2009
rear-tyreWhen we woke up this morning there was a light covering of snow on the ground L and it’s tried to snow again a couple of other times during the day as well! Thankfully it didn’t come to anything! But this got me to thinking about my motorbike tyres.

In perfect weather the condition of your tyres are crucial to the way your bike handles, and in the winter when the roads are wet, or worse slippery in really cold conditions it is vital that you check your tyres, both the tyre pressure and their condition, on a regular basis. Remember, during the wintertime the pressure in your tyres will be affected more by the cold weather than they would be during a warmer period during the summer.

If you are finding that your bike is ‘wandering’ slightly when you are riding over road markings in the wet, or that it feels slightly less sure footed or that it is starting to track the slight furrows in the road surface then you definitely need to take a look at your tyres.

It may be something as simple as the tyre pressures need looking at. Don’t trust the pressure gauges at your petrol station, 9 times out of 10 they are wrong! Invest in a digital tyre pressure gauge. I picked one up for a fiver, back in the summer, at Halfords and its small enough to keep in the bikes tool roll in the under seat compartment.

Under-inflated tyres will dramatically affect the handling of your bike, in all weathers, quite dramatically and be very unpleasant to ride on.

Over-inflated tyres while not really causing any real problems with the handling, will actually result in a smaller contact patch between the tyre and the road surface and means your bike will have less grip. Not really something you want, especially with the roads being like they are at the moment.

Either way, having your tyres inflated incorrectly is dangerous and could result in an accident. Checking your tyres on a regular basis is so vitally important and takes literally seconds to do, but that few seconds may just save your life.

So the next time you go to ride your bike, check them. And make sure you remember to check them on a regular basis, especially while the weather is cold.

 


Devon County Council Says Don’t Hibernate Your Bike Over The Winter!

December 8, 2008

Devon County Council is saying don’t hibernate your bike over the winter!

They are encouraging riders to carry on riding through the winter when the weather is suitable so that in the spring when the weather picks up a bit your riding skills aren’t diminished by not riding, thereby putting you at more risk of an accident.

In an effort to encourage more riders out on the road over the winter they are offering discounts on winter riding gear, discounts on advanced riding membership with Devon Advanced Motorcyclists (DAM) and winter Bikesafe events costing just £25.00.

Check the links out for more details if you live in the Devon area.