The Motorcycle industry is calling on the new Government to urgently address the current problems with motorcycle licensing.
According to the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCI), the 2009 introduction of the new European motorcycle test has been little short of a disaster. The number of tests taken has plummeted due to the severely reduced number of test centres. This coupled with inadequacies in the booking system means that candidates now face much longer journeys to their bike test.
Cost, inconvenience and lack of test availability could potentially lead to a culture of ‘permanent learners’ – hardly conducive to creating a culture of motorcycle safety. The Parliamentary Transport Select Committee was highly critical of the Driving Standard Agency’s (DSA) handling of the new test and MCI is calling for new Ministers to work with industry to “sort the situation out”.
The number of tests taken following the implementation of the new test was 68,793, which is 35,479 fewer than in the previous year and 17% lower than the average number of tests taken in a typical year.
The association says that DSA claim that the fall in number of tests is due to a peak in riders taking their tests prior to the introduction of the new rules. MCI however says that this idea is “palpable nonsense” as the trough in test numbers since the introduction of the new test is twice as big as the preceding peak.
With the ‘double whammy’ of the economic downturn, the MCI says that motorcycle sales have fallen by 20% in the last 12 months. “The Government’s refusal to include the motorcycle industry in scrappage, VED reductions, the automotive assistance programme and grant aid for green vehicle sales, had a direct impact on bike sales,” says public policy advisor for the motorcycle industry, Craig Carey-Clinch. “This left the industry taking an economic ‘hit’ without the ‘cushion’ of Government incentive programmes.”
Figures from the MCI reflect that the local motorcvcle manufacturing has so far been relatively unscathed by the drop in new sales. Companies such as Triumph, which launched a number of new models over the past 12 months, have actually increased sales. However, it may only be a matter of time before the drop in licence applications impacts on local industry.