Let's take a look at the motorcycle test. Has it changed?

When I took my motorcycle test in 1957 the examiner walked the route. After setting you off on a left-hand circuit round a block of houses, he would then walk towards you.After riding a left-hand circuit a few times, you would be then asked to ride round a right-hand circuit.After that you would probably be asked to ride round alternate blocks, like a figure of eight.You would have been asked to carry out the, emergency stop exercise, slow ride, angle start and possibly the hill-start if there was a hill on the route.

The two-part test was introduced in 1981. This was so called because you had to complete an off the road series of manoeuvres successfully before being able to take the on road test. The aim was to encourage learner riders to take proper training, prior to taking the on-road test as described above. This didn't have the effect that was hoped for, and only a relatively small percentage of riders took professional training.Even in 1988 the percentage was not very high.

In 1989 the Government were given powers to introduce Compulsory Basic Training, and brought it into effect in late 1990.

The reason behind this was the appalling accident rate of motorcyclists. In 1986 there were, 699 motorcyclists killed.Motor Cycles accounted for less than 2% of the vehicles, but 14% of all killed, and 23% of all serious injuries. Additionally, 43% of the casualties were under 20yrs and 34% under 18yrs.

Something had to be done to try and reduce the suffering.

Compulsory Basic Training and the Accompanied Test are still current and you have to pass both parts to get rid of your (L) plates.



Compulsory Basic Training.


Your objective is to attain a certificate of completion of basic training, which will enable you to ride solo on the road displaying (L) plates. This involves you booking a course through a local training body. They can supply you with a bike and clothing, if you donít have your own. This basic training course tells you of the legal requirements for riding on the road, explains the Highway Code and includes other important things such as clothing. After having the important parts of the machine explained and demonstrated to you by the instructor, you will get the chance to ride the machine on the site, (off the road). You will be expected to carry out several exercises and manoeuvres, and attain a reasonable standard of riding. Then you will be allowed to go on the road under the supervision of your instructor, who will be following you and giving you instructions by radio.

After having been out on the road and again reached a reasonable standard, your instructor will issue you with your basic training certificate. Remember what you have just completed is a basic training course carried out by a training body authorised by the DSA.As stated above, this allows you to ride on the road on your own, but you still have to display (L) plates.Your instructor will probably advise you of the other training courses they offer to get you up to the accompanied test standard. Now you have to pass your accompanied motorcycle test carried out by a DSA examiner, who also conducts driving tests on car drivers.



The Accompanied Test.


The Accompanied Test is so called because the examiner follows you, generally on a motorcycle, but sometimes in a car.He may have a Supervising Examiner with him checking the examiners assessment of you. This supervision helps to keep a consistency between tests.So don't be put off by the supervisor's presence, and he will be introduced to you before your test starts.

The examiner will explain what he wants you to do before you move off, and will check that the radios are working and that you can hear him clearly.If you can't hear him clearly, donít be afraid to say so. Remember, the examiner has an objective too; and that is to put you at ease so you can perform to the best of your ability. The amount of time you are being observed is probably around 95% of the duration of the test. Consider this against the earlier tests conducted by the examiner walking round the block where you were in view for probably less than 50% of the time. From this point of view you can see how the motorcycle test is much more in line with the car test.Additionally like the car test, the theory test has to be successfully completed, before being allowed to take the practical test.

The amount of fatalities in 1994 for motorcyclists was 444 killed.I'm not saying that the introduction of changes to the test were responsible for the considerable reduction in accident figures, during a time of increasing traffic; but I feel it has been a contributory factor.

You will find that the common failure points are very similar to the car failure points, Speed on approach to junctions, not taking proper observation before emerging at a junction, not making normal progress and driving with undue hesitancy.The Emergency stop exercise gets marked down quite a few times on the motorcycle test due to improper use of the brakes.

My recommendation is that you find a reputable Training Body that gives good tuition, learn the Highway Code so that you know it inside out, and be prepared to work hard at it.

After you have passed your test, go out there and get the practice and experience that you need. You are so vulnerable on a bike and you can lose some skin very quickly if you are not thinking about what you are doing.Therefore, remember the basics; as with the car, and concentrate, anticipate, and think defensive without being over cautious.It is no good you laid in a hospital bed with a broken leg saying, "It was my right of way"; when you could have taken more observation, and decelerated a little, without going to any extreme and slowing right down.This is called defensive riding and looking after yourself.

There is a lot of enjoyment and pleasure to be had out there on two wheels if you treat the machine with respect, use it correctly and most importantly know your limitations.Some riders are bikers for many years and donít have accidents.Drivers no doubt will have pulled out in front of them on several occasions.But if the rider has been thinking,' that driver might pull out in front of me,' he is thinking defensive, but the first thing he has been doing is concentrating on his riding and thinking of himself, and rightly so; self preservation is what it is about.

Remember passing the test is the first rung of the ladder.Why not try to be the best rider around, make it your hobby, learn all you can about being safe and skilful and put it into practice. Why not apply to a local Training Body; ask them if they require part-time instructors.On-site teaching can be carried out without having had the 3 years experience required for on-road tuition. You will probably get a lot of satisfaction out of it and learn a lot from pupils and it will keep you focused on your riding.




To Summarise: -

The current motorcycle test has changed considerably over the years and from what I have said in the preceding paragraphs, it is clear that it is much more in line with the current motor car test; and rightly so.

The changes have probably contributed to the reduction in the casualty figures. Riders taking to the road after passing the current motorcycle test are much better equipped than when I took my test in 1957.

Most important; know your limitations when you are out there enjoying yourself.



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