Motorcycling Kicking Back

rplate-250 The Department of the Environment (DOE) has published the – ‘DOE Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics April to June 2014.

While not a riveting bedtime read the department says that the, “official statistics show that the number of Driving Test applications submitted to the DVA during the period April to June 2014 was 14,230, 8% higher than for the same time period last year.”

A quick flick through the key points outlined by the DOE, as well as a study of the report, seems to suggest that it is looking good for people taking up riding – even factoring in the changes to the motorcycle test regime that saw the introduction of CBT – Compulsory Basic Training – February 2012 and the 3rd European Driving Licence Directive – January 2013 – Progressive and Direct Access testing for motorcycle licence categories..

Key Points

  • Motorcycle L Tests have seen the largest proportional increase, where applications increased by over 38% from 564 to 779 during the same time period.
  • The largest percentage increase in Tests conducted was Motorcycle L tests, which have increased by approximately half (49%) when compared with the same quarter for 2013 where the number of tests conducted was 463.
  • The most notable change in pass rates was for the Motorcycle L Test, which rose by just under five percentage points from 68% to 73%;
  • A similar trend was seen in the theory test pass rates by gender for the Motorcycle theory test, where the Female pass rate in the latest rolling quarter average was 78%, again five percentage points higher than for the males at 73%.
  • A breakdown of Motorcycle entitlement indicates 104,881 were Full and Eligible Licence Holders and 1,069,924 had Provisional Entitlement (either directly or from holding a provisional or full car licence).
  • Males accounted for 84% of all licence holders with Full and Eligible Motorcycle Entitlement as at the 30th June 2014.
  • Females accounted for 16% of Full and Eligible Licence Holders with the same entitlement;

Further figures from the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) state that all motorcycles registered new/used in  Jan-Mar 2014 was 511, compared to the same period in 2013 the figure was 417.

However if we look at the warmer months all motorcycles registered in Apr-Jun 2014 was 794 with Honda at the top of the table with 73 new motorcycles registered for the first time followed by Triumph with 47 and in third place Kawasaki with 40 – then Yamaha and BMW with 39 – with the rest bringing up the rear.

And it is no shock that the figures also show that, “Evidence suggests that licensing of motorcycles is seasonal; where large numbers of motorcycles are SORNed – Statutory Off Road Notification) during winter months but become licensed again during the summer months.”

The report also comments that, “Although the introduction of the EU 3rd Directive (3DLD) in January 2013 for motorcycles may, in part, be attributable to the decrease in tests conducted during the Apr-Jun 2013 quarter.”

This is reflected in the breakdown of driving test applications for the L Test for Motorcycles during Oct-Dec 2012 – 1,144 compared to Oct-Dec 2013 – 554.

So we can comment that despite the best effort of the 3rd European Driving Licence Directive, which introduced a stepped access testing regime, rather than a training and assessment regime that was supposed to give young riders an incentive to move through the categories from moped to a full A licence, there is some evidence that motorcycling is kicking back in Northern Ireland.

However anecdotal evidence from talking with young riders, those between 17 -19 year old who can take CBT to get them on the road on a 125cc with a provisional licence, are that they are not taking a full test on a 125cc.

Instead they are waiting until they are 19 years of age when they can take a “full” test for an A2 category medium sized motorcycle. The IAM Institute of Advanced Motorists has said that, “motorcycle licence rules could have ‘backfired’ by encouraging young riders to remain learners instead of taking a test.”

Mind The Gap

extrmesmc-coverTherefore there would appear to be a gap in the EU’s stepped licensing regime.

A gap that is not filled with structured, relevant and cost-effective basic training.  This would be to give the novice rider the essential skills and knowledge capable of safely operating a motorcycle in normal traffic situations on public roads.  Here in the UK/Northern Ireland we do seem to have accepted what has been handed to us.

However over in Sweden the riders group SMC (Sveriges MotorCyklister) has stated that whether it is necessary to repeat the same test three times,  starting with A1, A2, and then again to proceed to a full A licence,  it is obvious that the motorcycle licence system needs to change.

SMC is asking for a reform of the motorcycle licence testing and suggest that Sweden should be the test country for a better European wide system. Sweden, according to SMC has a specific issue that nearly half of those who die on a motorcycle didn’t have a licence at all.

They say that experience, not the riding tests, must be seen as an important part of rider training and should focus more on training.

They state that, “The world’s leading road safety experts has put education as the primary measure to increase safety among motorcyclists. Based on this, we must make access to education possible and offer an education that is cost-effective and thus accessible to many.”

SMC summarise what this would mean: that a 16 year old could take a licence on a motorcycle and work his/her way up to more powerful motorcycles after two years in each licence category with only one basic education, one riding test and one theory test. Experience has more effect on road safety than repeated driving tests.

How this would be delivered we assume is open for discussion, however our own stance would be that instead of a test between licence categories and following the alternative method allowed by the 3DLD, is to scrap the testing, off-road and on road, and introduce the 7 hours training/assessment between the licence categories.
Original Source – Department of the Environment (DOE) – Click Here


‘DOE Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics’ Quarter 1, April to June 2014 – DOE website – Click Here
‘DOE Driver, Vehicle, Operator and Enforcement Statistics 2013/14 – pdf – Click Here
Motor Vehicles registered for the first time (Quarter 4 – January to March 2014) – Click Here
SMC – Extreme Behaviour On Two Wheels – pdf – Click Here

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