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:
- Minimum age of access to all types of motorcycles larger than 125cc rises
from 17 to 19.
- Minimum age for Direct Access to larger motorcycles rises from 21 to 24.
- Stepped licence system between licence categories requiring riders to
complete further testing or training between steps.
- 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.
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
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
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.