Government unveils safety improvements for motorcyclists and lorry and bus drivers

00.00 | 30 November 2011 | | 6 comments

Measures to boost safety for motorcyclists and lorry and bus drivers have been put forward in Parliament and will come in to force on 19 January 2013.

The measures – which also strengthen requirements for driving examiners and impact on the rules for drivers towing trailers – are part of new European requirements aimed at improving road safety.

The changes are being implemented by the Department for Transport (DfT) in conjunction with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).

The main aspects of the new rules are:

  • Motorcyclists: Access to more powerful bikes will be staged subject to competence, age and previous experience. The minimum age to ride the largest bikes without previous experience will rise from 21 to 24.
  • Licence renewals for bus and lorry drivers: At present, drivers of medium-sized and large buses and lorries need to renew their licences every five years once they reach the age of 45. Over 45s also need to demonstrate their fitness to drive through a full medical report. From 2013, all new or renewed bus and lorry licences will be renewable every five years. However, drivers under 45 will not require a full medical report and will still only need to renew their photograph every 10 years. All other drivers and riders will continue to renew their driving licences every 10 years as is currently the case.
  • Driving examiners: Compulsory initial qualification, periodic training and quality assurance checks will be required for driving examiners. Britain already fulfils most of these requirements but the new rules will enhance the DSA’s existing arrangements.
  • Trailer towing: Under the new rules car drivers will be limited to towing 3.5 tonnes.

Rosemary Thew, DSA chief executive, said: “Britain already has some of the safest roads in the world. These changes build on our existing standards and recognise the importance of our examiners’ professionalism. They will also help to ensure that new motorcyclists gain the right skills and experience before riding bigger bikes.”

Simon Tse, DVLA chief executive, said: “These changes will provide a useful additional reminder for bus and lorry drivers. They will help to ensure that drivers of these vehicles will continue to operate to high levels of levels of safety by ensuring that they are fit to drive.”

The European requirements are being introduced in Great Britain in line with feedback from a public consultation, which included responses from driver and rider training bodies, trade associations and road safety groups.

Click here to read the full DfT report.


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Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    As previously mentioned the greatest age group in danger of serious injury or death on motorcycles is the aged 35 to 55 yrs group. The back to biking bikers or those who have the money and free time to enjoy a new pastime or relive an old one.

    Those that go out for a blast on a balmy evening or at the weekend. Most incidents do not involve another.

    The other group at serious risk, but generally for less serious injuries, are the learners and nearners, generally commutors who because of the great proximity of other road users are at risk of involvement with another.

    On the plus side the 85% rule tells us that the majority are somewhat law abiding and that it is a small proportion who regularly flout the law.

    Conspicuity has been on the agenda since the 19780s and still the same accidents happen. It’s not a case that the twv should be more apparent, though that is an advantage, it’s the case that others do not bother to look long enough to see/recognise them.

    bob Craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    With regards to the problems with the motorcyclist change to this legislation, the issues are:

    1.Yes, a staged access related to competence may be worthwhile but even if a rider who is restricted to an engine size or power output is involved in a collision that is reported to the police, what is the likelihood that they will get their vehicle checked against their licence categories? Talk to a group of 16 and 17 year olds to find out how they adapt their machines to boost power and speed and it quickly becomes apparent that they know the law but blatantly disregard it, as they know they are highly unlikely to be caught as the police are too often ill equipped to test them even if they are stopped.

    2. If there is a valid argument for restricting access to powerful machines for twv riders until 24 years old, how on earth are 17 year olds car drivers [also with a high casualty rate] permitted unrestricted access to any car they want [funds permitting]?

    As commented on below, motorcyclists are an easy target and seen as a sensible target by a public that is largely against motorcyclists. The Graduated Driving Licence should have been included in this bundle of measures and could have saved many more lives.

    Andy, Medway
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In the UK there are two main groups of casualties in relation to motorcycling, older riders on large capacity machines and young riders (16-21) on machines of 125cc and less; this EU legislation doesn’t address either of them.

    Dave, Leeds
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    And with little or no road police enforcement or patrol taking place, who will enforce the new laws, or more to the point will anyone enforce the existing laws of the road?

    Alan Hale – South Gloucestershire.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The ongoing campaigns for safer riding as ever, target the motorcyclist. In riding safely there is much to commend rider education especially where high powered machines are involved. But where does the ‘stop and educate’ involve other vehicle drivers?

    Multi vehicle accidents involving two wheel vehicles are mostly where another vehicle is four wheels or more. In the majority of cases the cause of such a collision is down to lack of ‘seeing’ the two wheeler. Visibility campaigns, such as wear something bright fail to address the need for all drivers to be more aware of those vehicles which have a narrow silhouette, for if you are not seen at all through lack of looking or two wheeled appreciation, no amount of brightness will help you.

    Power alone is not dangerous, it’s what you do with it. Small machines can be enormous fun to ride but their lightness of weight and relatively low power can bring some disadvantages. Learning to cope with same is part of a learning curve in itself, but to many who use the roads, all motorcycles are dangerous. Yet the real danger is ignorance. A padded box provides protection for the occupant only. But on the move with an unappreciative driver, it can be the most dangerous vehicle on the roads.

    Education – misguided?

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Its not the power (how does one decide what power is, by BHP alone or what) of the motorcycle that is the problem. I have an old classic and it will still do 115 mph. Not that I want to do that.

    We are also restricting young persons to 125cc up to the age of 19 and still those bikes will be capable of nearly 90 miles per hour, over 40 mtrs per second. May I say that with a rider of some weight on such a bike, the centre of gravity and the balance and road holding of the bike and tyres will be somewhat affected and compromised and thus the rider will be more likely to be involved in a fall off.

    We have had the involvement of government in legislation to reduce the incidents of accidents particularly on small bikes since the 1960s and still they get it wrong.

    bob craven Lancs
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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