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DSA announce details of the new stepped licence regime

Meanwhile, the DSA have also apparently confirmed the final arrangements for the implementation of the changes to the motorcycle test required by the 3rd European Driving Licence Directive. MAG have released the following statement:

“Details of a new motorcycle licencing regime to be implemented next year have been confirmed by the Driving Standards Agency.

The new rules will limit all riders under 19 to 125cc machines and under-21s to 47bhp. Those aged 17-19 will only be able to gain a licence for a machine up to 125cc and 15bhp by taking a test on a bike of similar spec.

… At 19 they can qualify for a bike up to 47bhp by doing another test or undertaking additional training. This must be done on a machine over 395cc and between 33bhp and 47bhp.

They then face a further two-year wait – and yet another test or further training – before they can qualify to ride a bike of any power.

Alternatively, people over 24 can take a single Direct Access test to immediately qualify for bikes of any power. This test must be taken on a machine of at least 595cc and 54bhp.

Each step-up in power will involve a further test or training. A DSA release said: ‘The feasibility of the training option is currently being looked into; a final decision is yet to be made.’

The new regime is due to be implemented from January 19 next year.

It means 17-year-olds will face three exams or training sessions over a minimum of four years before the can ride an unlimited bike.

There are grave concerns about the impact it will have on new rider numbers. Paul Dickinson, Chairman of the Motorcycle Trainers’ National Council, said: “It’s going to be a problem just explaining the new process when people phone up. There is a concern it may put people off.”

At the moment there are two routes to a full motorcycle licence without power restrictions. Riders can either do their test on a 125 and spend two years restricted to 33bhp or, if over 21, they can do the Direct Access test on a machine of at least 47bhp and bypass the wait.”

A key phrase in the statement is that the DSA are still looking at the “feasibility of the training option”. My own guess is not to get too excited by the idea that the DSA might hand over the ‘certification rights’ to training schools to validate the next step up the licence ladder. Although they could use CBT where a qualified instructor delivers a training course and signs the CBT certificate to ‘validate’ the provisiona licence as a precedent, I’d be very surprised if that turns out to be the case. The DSA are apparently looking at a wholesale reorganisation of the structure of motorcycle instruction and training schools, with the downtrained instructor classification coming to an end.

The main concern for training schools is that instructors will presumably have to be qualified to take the new stepped training – I’m still waiting on that news. Whilst I’d take a guess that the DSA will allow existing DAS-qualified instructors to take the 33-47hp step, I’m sure the DSA won’t miss the opportunity to create a whole new instructor licence grade for the full-power bikes.

If this is the case, a year isn’t too long for the DSA to put the testing procedure in place at Cardington, and for training schools to actually be able to book slots to send their instructors to Bedfordshire to get qualified.

Last time we had a change of this magnitude was in 1996 when Direct Access was created, and in the event the introduction had to be delayed until 1997 as hardly any schools had had a chance to get their instructor cadre qualified.

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