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PM fields bike test question in Parliament

From Prime Minister’s Question Time, yesterday:

Anne Main (MP for St Albans)

“Since 2008 and the introduction of new rules on motorcycling and tests, the number of people taking the test has declined by 62 per cent. and the number of people passing the test has declined by 58 per cent. The motorbiking industry is extremely important in the UK. What will the Prime Minister do to rectify what is obviously a very poor system?”

The Prime Minister

“I shall take the figures that the hon. Lady has given me and ask the Transport Minister to look into that very matter. It is important that we have a strong motorcycling industry in this country, and it is important that her question about the specifics of the tests be answered.”

Of course, the Transport Minister has long been getting it in the ear from the motorcycle industry, but a televised question might do some good.

One of the problems I’m hearing about from trainers is that the DSA booking system is as big a mess as ever.

Module Two tests are on offer at short notice, but there’s a shortage of Module One tests. Of course, under the current arrangement trainees can’t take the Module Two test first; they must present a Module One pass certificate before heading out on the road.

So available tests are going unfilled. What usually happens next is the DSA use that as an excuse to cut back on the number of motorcycle examiners, driving test centres that offer bike tests and test slots in general.

No doubt someone will try to blame the weather, but if the conditions on the off-road areas are too poor to test on, then it’s unlikely the road-based part of the test would have gone ahead.

An obvious interim solution would be to allow the two modules to be taken in any order, at least until such time as the full quota of MPTCs are finally in operation and sufficient Module One tests are available for everyone who wants to take one.

There’s no good reason this couldn’t be done – in the original plan for the on-road Module Two element to follow the off-road Module One directly, the examiner would have taken the candidate on the road even in the event of a failure! The only exception would have been in the case where a candidate demonstrated a dangerously incompetent standard of riding.

Under the old system, the examiner would have had to take the candidate on the road unseen, and would have simply terminated the test on the road.

It’s unlikely to be a common issue – in a decade and a half in basic training, I can’t recall this ever happening with any of the trainees at any of the schools I have worked at.

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