In response to DL196’s comments.
The new test has always been contentious and both my own ATB Camrider, and the Motorcycle Rider Training Association have been advising the DSA on the potential hazards of the new test since its first discussions in late 1999.
DL196 presents a rather sensationalised and negative opinion of the training industry. I think it important to point out that there is a vast majority of exceptionally professional and altruistic instructors who have dedicated their lives to the furtherance of motorcycling and road safety. My own company Camrider was born out of a County Council road safety scheme and carries forward all the aim and values that any learner biker would hope for.
Good ATBs will always create appropriate lesson plans for a new rider. Learning on the whole is not test orientated; however that is precisely what the customer is hoping for when they book. It is the ATB’s job to provide the best possible training within the available budget the customer is willing to spend. Camrider for example always try to spread the training over two or three weeks so as to allow time to add training into the lesson plan or to give the candidate access to a hire bike.
The aim for the instructors at Camrider and the majority of ATB’s is to produce a safe well rounded motorcyclist, able to pass their test at any test centre they present at. Of course there are poor ATB’s and these need to be much more vigorously pursued. So I would agree with DL196 in the aspect that DSA has little teeth to pursue the rogue minority of poor training schools.
On the issue of the new test. There was an extensive period of consultation where all options were considered. The vast majority of trainers were of the opinion that an avoidance manoeuvre of any sort that would be conducted at a minimum of 50 Kph had to be completed off road. The actual implementation the DSA have brought in has been contentious. Camrider and many ATB’s are of the firm opinion it needs to be moderated and allowances made for wet weather.
DSA have tested the new off road module to good degree, but what they could not test was the reactions and nerves of a new rider on test. This is an always will be a difficult time for a rider, and Instructors routinely see people who are demonstrably very competent whilst under training, go to pieces with the nerves induced by the test. Couple this with a requirement to ensure a minimum speed whilst approaching an hazard to swerve around is likely to cause accidents.
Feedback I have for the new test from the seven centres we operate from has been in the whole positive. There is a need to change the avoidance manoeuvre and to do so immediately. I have already written to the DSA’s Chief Executive and will be meeting with her and senior DSA representatives at the end of the month for the regular meeting held with Camrider, MAG, BMF, MRTA, MCI etc.
The new test has a very positive objective in testing the ability of a candidate to swerve and thus their ability to appreciate steering dynamics and counter steer. When the new test is correctly implemented it will be a major step forward in the training and testing regime for new riders if it meets its objectives of requiring specific lessons with check test on the area of cornering and hazard avoidance.