APPENDIX 2: MOTOR VEHICLES (DRIVING LICENCES)
(AMENDMENT) (NO. 5) REGULATIONS 2008 (SI 2008/2508)|
Further information from the Department for Transport
1. These Regulations defer by 6 months the implementation
of previous Regulations, the Motor Vehicles (Driving Licences)
(Amendment) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/508) which aimed to transpose
EC Directives: 2000/56/EC and 2008/65 and introduce new and more
demanding manoeuvres to the motorcycle driving test by 29 September
2. In October 2000 the European Commission adopted
Directive 2000/56/EC that introduced higher standards for all
driving tests. Implementation of the Directive was originally
required by 2005, but the Commission agreed a deferment until
29 September 2008 (confirmed by Directive 2008/65/EC) because
of implementation difficulties faced by some Member States.
3. One of the higher standards introduced by the
Directive was to require all motorcycle riders undertaking practical
tests to carry out more demanding specified manoeuvres. The Directive,
at Annex II, point 11 allowed each Member State to assess the
manoeuvres on a "special testing ground".
4. To determine whether a "special testing ground"
was necessary, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) trialled the
specified manoeuvres at its Driving Examiner training centre at
Cardington in conjunction with riders of all abilities from within
the motorcycling community (including disabled riders). Following
the trials there was general agreement that the manoeuvres needed
to be carried out on special testing grounds for safety reasons.
The risk to the rider of a serious injury if the manoeuvres were
carried out on-road was considered to be too great. It was also
thought that the learner rider, if carrying out the manoeuvres
on-road, might also present a significant safety risk to other
5. The results of the trials informed the subsequent
public consultation to assess the opinions of a wider audience
including the motorcycle community, emergency services, road safety
interests, courts and the public at large. The response to consultation
concluded that the manoeuvres should be carried out off-road on
a special testing ground.
6. The Agency did not have a suitable estate to conduct
the manoeuvres off-road. It realised it would need to embark upon
an ambitious programme to acquire the necessary estate. To make
the programme cost effective, it was decided that the new test
centres would be multi-purpose, offering enhanced services for
candidates undertaking other categories of driving test. It was
also seen as an opportunity to update an existing estate that
offered poor facilities for learners and to provide better facilities
for disabled drivers and riders in line with Disability Discrimination
Act 1995 requirements.
7. DSA sought to provide a national network of about
66 Multi-Purpose Test Centres (MPTCs), which would deliver approximately
83% service coverage within a 45 minute / 20 mile 'travel to test'
distance. Sixty-six sites would also mean that 96% of the population
would fall within 60 minutes travel time and 99.5% within 90 minutes.
8. However, the Agency encountered numerous problems
in seeking to acquire the necessary estate. On many occasions,
DSA were refused planning permission after spending considerable
time going through the planning process. Sometimes they identified
suitable sites but had to withdraw because the cost became too
expensive once it was known a Government department wished to
make the purchase. They also identified sites where the cost of
remediation was too expensive. In addition, although a site may
have been ideal for conducting the new motorcycling test manoeuvres,
the surrounding area may not have been suitable for on-road testing,
for example, lacking different road types (urban/rural), traffic
signals, roundabouts, bends, pedestrian crossings, etc.
Decision to Defer
9. Because of the difficulties in acquiring suitable
and sufficient estate, DSA received representations from the motorcycling
community requesting deferment of the new motorcycling test. By
August 2008, it had become clear that only 38 of the planned MPTCs
would be operational by 29 September. Some motorcycling test candidates
would have faced lengthy journeys (over 100 miles in some cases)
to take their practical riding test with consequential road safety
concerns. On 3 September Jim Fitzpatrick (Parliamentary Under
Secretary of State for Transport) met with representatives of
Motor Cycle Industry Association, Motorcycle Rider Training Association,
and Harley Davidson Riders Edge. Their concerns largely centred
on the number and location of the MPTCs.
10. Having taken account of the views expressed,
it was agreed that the Agency should defer implementation of the
test for a period of 6 months (until 30 March 2009). Currently
there are 38 operational MPTCs, but by the beginning of April
2009, it is expected, to bring an additional 5 to 6 MPTCs into
operation and some additional temporary provision is being explored.
DSA currently forecast that 44 full MPTCs will be operational
by 30 March 2009; which will result in 63% of the population of
Great Britain being within 45 minutes of an MPTC; 83% within 60
minutes; and 97% within 90 minutes. In addition, the Agency will
provide weekend testing only from up to 14 part-time VOSA sites
and additional mid-week testing from up to 4 casual-hire sites;
together, these sites will bring overall population coverage to:
86% within 45 minutes; 95% within 60 minutes; and 99% within 90
minutes. Although this is below the target of 66 sites, DSA believe
that these measures will enable them to provide a satisfactory
level of coverage although work will continues towards securing
full test centre coverage at the earliest opportunity.
11. The European Commission has been informed and
has accepted that the UK is not seeking to avoid implementation
of the Directive, but merely defer implementation for a short
period of time.