GoogleCustom Search

European Licence Fiasco - Barrel Load of Madness - August 16th 2005

News Archives | WSB Results | Supermoto Results | British Superbike Results | MotoGP Results |

    The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) has launched its three pronged lobby to bring sense to the proposals contained in the European Unions 3rd European Driving Licence Directive.

    MAG is asking riders to lobby their MEPs, MPs and the Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling.

    The directive, due to be implemented in 2011, is an attempt to harmonize motorcycle licences across Europe all in the name of road safety. It is a prime example of bewildering over-regulation in an effort to cut motorcycle accidents. The European Commission has now set itself an accident reduction target of 50% as set down in its 3rd Road Safety Action Plan.

    The directive also contains sections on weight limits on trailers, age limitations and renewals of licences, eye sight tests, medical checks and the inclusion of chips or biometric strips on licences.

    Before this directive is imposed, the UK will see the introduction of the 2nd European Driving Licence Directive in 2008, which will implement a more stringent test regime with the introduction of a two stage test, one part being "off road." This will be a super CBT test with a brake and swerve manoeuvre included requiring the provision of enhanced test centres, as many current ones cannot accommodate this test.

    By 2011 the cost of obtaining a motorcycle licence will be out of the reach of young riders and the contribution that motorcycles can make to the reduction of congestion and environmental protection will be reduced.

    The flawed directive includes proposals for:

  1. Minimum age of access to all types of motorcycles larger than 125cc rises from 17 to 19.
  2. Minimum age for Direct Access to larger motorcycles rises from 21 to 24.
  3. Stepped licence system between licence categories requiring riders to complete further testing or training between steps.
  4. Flexibility that empowers individual European countries to introduce age requirements which really makes a mockery of the whole concept of a European harmonized motorcycle licence.
  5. The directive in the past year has seen several compromise amendments, with the main thrust of the European motorcycle communities' position ignored. Motorcyclists now face a mere rubber stamping of the directive in the European Parliament.

    MAG's Director Of Public Affairs Trevor Baird says, "The whole process of the directive can be seen as a philosophical approach that tougher testing and training will reduce accidents simply by reducing the numbers of motorcyclists."

    This will deny riders the right balance between safety, mobility and access to Powered-Two Wheelers while at the same time, failing to address the real issues of motorcycle safety.

    The UK Government is now "in charge" of the directive and MAG calls on the government to use its Presidency well, not to ignore the evidence from Europe or from the Department for Transport that shows that the most common type of accident resulting in motorcycle user casualties is one that also involves a car.

    The motorcycle community is involved in the delivery of the government's national motorcycle strategy for a sensible, practical and deliverable package of measures to make a positive difference for motorcycling, and make sure that motorcycling takes its proper place in the transport mainstream as a safe, affordable means of transport.

    As a Riders' Rights organisation, MAG has a real interest in the future of motorcycling and the freedom to ride. MAG believes that there are fundamental issues concerning behaviour and attitude that need addressing and that this is specifically related to the lack of training not only of young car drivers but also for young PTW riders. Training and testing are not the same. A test is a one off event and demands basic skills, training implies progression and the development of skills.

    We are approaching the stage where the motorcycle community may have to say to Europe "enough is enough", we will not compromise further on our position, and call for the removal of the motorcycle part of the directive.

    To put it bluntly those legislators and politicians who act on the European citizens' behalf must take note of the motorcycling community's concerns and recognise that they will be held accountable for their actions.