From October next year, learner drivers will be tested to see how good they are at scanning the road for bikes.
Test candidates will be shown video clips filmed from the top of a car, and tested on how quickly and appropriately they respond to the presence of motorcyclists in variety of scenarios.
To pass the new part of the test – called the Hazard Perception Test - they’ll have to react competently to a number of clips containing at least 15 different hazards. According to Trevor Wedge, assistant chief examiner for the Driving Standards Agency (DSA), which administers the test, many of them will involve bikes.
" There’s a whole range involving motorcycles, " he said. " They include situations where a motorcyclist is filtering. In one particular situation, a driver is turning right, and another car travelling in the opposite direction has stopped for him to do so. We want to see the test candidate knows that just because a car isn’t going to come past that stationary vehicle, doesn’t mean a motorcycle isn’t. "
The government has long been promising a tougher driving test to help tackle motorcycle accidents caused by car drivers. And it’s exactly those accidents the Hazard Perception Test is aimed at reducing.
The DSA’s research has shown that new drivers can take up to two seconds longer to recognise a hazard than experienced drivers.
Learner motorcyclists will have to sit the new test too.
Ian Mutch, spokesman for the Motorcycle Action Group, agrees. Mutch thinks the new tests are great news, but is concerned about one particular limitation. The roof-mounted cameras used to film the clips are front-facing only. That means it’s impossible to recreate a situation in which a driver has stopped at a T-junction and is looking left and right to check the road is clear – and we all know the potential consequences of failing to perform that exercise appropriately.