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More twists and turns than a…

…twisty, turny thing!

A few days back, I mentioned the DSA had been put firmly on the back foot by an EU Commission revision of the specifications of motorcycles to be used on test from December 2013.

As explained, the changes are:

  1. reducing the minimum engine power for category A2 tests from 25kW to 20kW

  2. increasing the minimum engine power for category A tests from 40kW to 50kW

  3. introducing a minimum mass weight of 180kg for category A

Rather to my surprise, the DSA have circulated emails around training schools asking for feedback on “whether this will affect you and how”, by the end of Wednesday 15 August.

You can visit their feedback page here, though it doesn’t say anything extra:

Just in case the ‘tell the DSA’ button doesn’t work (it didn’t in my browser), it’s a mail to: link targeted at:

so send your thoughts there.

Meanwhile, over the other side of the Channel, the EU Commission have thrown a spanner at the pending French ‘reflective patches’ law. Paddy Tyson at MAG updates us:

“In an interesting twist, the EU Commission seem to have re-opened the hi-viz debate.

“On 19th July, in response to a question about hi-viz in France, which was put to the EU Commission by British MEP Roger Helmer, Siim Kallas (Commission Vice President) answered on behalf of the Commission outlining the current EU harmonised standards on PPE (personal protective equipment).

“He explained that Directive 89/686/EEC included minimum hi-viz standards for personal use (EN1150) and for professional use, like police riders for example, (EN471), which are higher.

“Directives don’t carry the same legislative weight as Regulations, but if something within a Directive is to be applied, it must meet the minimum standard and the minimum standard in this case is actually 1,000cm2 of hi-viz material, not the 150cm2 the French have ruled. That’s six times more hi-viz!

“To quote Mr Kallas:

“It thus appears that the French rule is based on a mistaken reference to the requirements of the relevant harmonised standards. The Commission will contact the French authorities with a view to correcting this mistake.”

“This really leaves the French two options. Either, they shelve the idea altogether, or riders in France will be wrapped up like Turkeys after Christmas.”

Of course, it’s not actually as simple (!) as that.

There are differences between hi-viz and reflective materials, for a start. One is intended to work in daytime and the other at night, and combined together they are generally referred to as ‘conspicuity’ aids, so whether or not the French can actually produce a national law which demands an entirely different piece of clothing from those laid out in the directives mentioned above is a moot point.

Although directives ARE binding on member states, as I understand it the directives lay down the required standards of clothing that’s sold as suitable for “conspicuity clothing”, but doesn’t mean it’s compulsory to wear such clothing. For example, there are standards for body armour, but it’s not compulsory to use it, but if they are sold with a protective function in mind, they must comply.

Digging into the regulations a little more deeply, I discovered that the marketing and supply of high visibility clothing for occupational use is covered by EU Directive 89/686/EEC, which was transposed into UK law by the Personal Protective Equipment (EC Directive) Regulations 2002, and PPE provided for such use MUST comply with its requirements.

BS EN 471 covers high visibility jackets, waistcoats, shirts, coats, tabards, trousers and coveralls (together with harnesses) and the selection of appropriate garments that comply with this standard will ensure compliance with the Directive and UK Regulations.

BS EN 471 provides for three classes of basic design (Classes 1, 2 and 3) and two levels of retroreflectivity (Level 1 and Level 2) from which the buyer/user may select those appropriate to the risks in a particular occupational environment. Class 3 incorporates the largest areas of fluorescent and reflective materials and Level 2 gives the highest reflectivity, so a garment to Class 3 /Level 2 offers the highest overall level of protection that can be specified under the Standard. It also covers exactly how reflective it is as well as areas like colour fastness through fading and washing.

There will be relatively few applications in the UK for which Level 1 reflectivity is acceptable as all instances where the assessed risk includes road traffic are required by the Department for Transport (and the Highways Agency) to be Level 2.

So precisely how the French position sits in EU law isn’t clear. EN 1150 covers garments for purely private use and it might be remembered that the original proposals were for a combined hi-viz / reflective garment but under pressure from French motorcyclists, the original proposals were watered down to the current state of affairs, where only a relatively small area of reflective material only is being proposed, and it’s that which concerns the EU Commission.

The photo of the garment above has been lifted from a cycling and runners’ site and complies with the non-professional EN1150 standard, and is basically a mix of hi-vis and reflective patches, and I suspect this is the sort of thing the French originally had in mind.

As UK law mandates that bike instructors and trainees should wear conspicuity clothing, then the ‘professional standard’ EN471 should be applied and an example of a typical “traffic vest” is below.

It’s likely most schools will already be using the correct standard but all the same it’s worth checking the labels on what you supply to instructors and trainees if you’ve picked something a little more stylish than the standard traffic vest. The standards are as follows:

Class 2: Intermediate level of protection Examples: Sleeveless waistcoats, tabards, bib and brace trousers

  1. 0.5m2 fluorescent material

  2. 0.13m2 retroreflective material

Class 3: Highest level of protection Coats and jackets with sleeves, coveralls, two piece suits

  1. 0.8m2 fluorescent material

  2. 0.2m2 retroreflective material

Interestingly, my favoured hi-viz colour of pink isn’t allowed; the garment must be yellow, yellow/orange or red only (or a combination).

Rather oddly, the lower standard for non-professional use, EN1150, is considered to be suitable for joggers, cyclists, children, walking to the bus etc, but also for cyclist and pedestrian training! One would have thought that counts as ‘professional use’, so that’s as clear as mud too!

Anyway, it could be the French bureaucrats who proposed the reflective panels in the first place are well aware of the directive and have chosen to ignore it altogether. Whatever the situation, it looks like this story could run and run.

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