Fifty thousand fewer riders took their test in the last eight months of 2009 than in the same period the previous year.
The figure signals there has been no recovery from the impact of a new test introduced last April.
Eighty-one thousand riders took the test in the last eight months of 2008. But in 2009 the figure was just 31,000, a fall of 62%.
The number of riders to pass is just as worrying. In the last eight months of 2008 the figure was 53,000. In 2009 the number was 22,000, a fall of 58%.
Nich Brown, spokesman for rider lobbyists the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), said: “The DSA has been saying that test bookings are back to normal and we have been saying we don’t believe it. This shows we were right.
“If this carries on long-term then we will see motorcycling shrink."
The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) has previously blamed the fall in tests on a surge before the changeover, saying there had been 40,000 extra candidates during the old test’s final two years. But the latest figures show that surge has been outstripped by the fall within the new test’s first year.
A DSA spokesman nevertheless again cited the same explanation, saying: “The 2008 figures may be inflated due to the number of candidates trying to pass the test before the changes.”