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French insurer: motorcycle accidents are not caused by technical failures

Out of more than 18,000 insurance claims studied over the 2016-2020 period, less than 0.4% of motorcycles were reported as dangerous in the expert’s reports, often because of tyres that had reached the tyre’s tread wear indicator. This makes mandatory technical inspection for motorcycles useless and ineffective, according to French motorcyclists’ organisation FFMC.

What is the position of the French insurance company Mutuelle des Motards on mandatory, periodical technical inspections for powered two-wheelers?

Yannick Bournazel (photo courtesy of AAM)

Yannick Bournazel from Mutuelle des Motards: “At the Mutuelle des Motards, out of more than 18,000 claims studied over the 2016-2020 period, less than 0.4% of motorcycles were reported as dangerous in the expert’s reports, often because of tyres that had reached the tyre’s tread wear indicator. The implementation of a technical inspection would therefore be ineffective in reducing accidents. Its only purpose would be to penalize the use of adaptable parts, which has no proven causal link with regard to the accident.”

Yannick Bournazel: “The initial training of candidates for a motorcycle license includes a large section devoted to technical checks and vehicle maintenance, for example with checking the brake pads or the secondary chain tension. In addition, everything is visible and accessible without dismantling on a two-wheeler, and we know how attentive motorcyclists are to the condition of their bike, because it is a guarantee of safety.”

Yannick continued: “Let us not forget that the main cause of death remains vulnerability to other users, and that in 67.5% of cases, the biker is not held responsible. If we really want to act on accidents, it is therefore on sharing the road and raising user awareness that we must intervene, and not primarily on the rare technical causes. This is the role of insurers, and the Mutual has been involved in this issue since its creation. The recent creation of our Securider training subsidiary is a further demonstration of this.”

What are the actions taken by the FFMC to fight against the implementation of a technical control for two-wheelers?
Since the first turmoil of the two-wheeler technical inspection project in the 2000s, the French motorcyclists’ organisation FFMC (a member of FEMA) has clearly positioned itself against its implementation and has mobilized bikers in the street on multiple occasions to defend its position. It has also established itself as the privileged discussion partner of the public authorities to bring its proposals and recall its citizens’ concerns, in particular in terms of the fight against noise and pollution.

‘We will demonstrate to Europe that technical inspection is useless because it is ineffective’

Didier Renoux (photo by MotoMag)

Didier Renoux, communications officer at the FFMC said: “After the about-face of this summer, caused by an excess of zeal of the administration, we were immediately invited by the Minister of Transport, Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, on Friday 3 September. We were invited as an association representing users, along with Sébastien Poirier, President of the French Motorcycling Federation (FFM). At the end of this meeting, the roadmap is very clear. The first step is to repeal, ideally before the end of 2021, the decree announced on 11 August. At the same time, we are continuing the work undertaken between user associations and the public authorities to put in place alternative measures to improve the safety of motorcyclists.

Didier goes on: “The three main working themes retained are the improvement of infrastructures, the encouragement of the use of personal protective equipment and the sensitization of vulnerable users during the initial training. By adding them to the measures already implemented in the country, such as the reform of the motorcycle license or the limitation to 80 km/h (even if they are not our responsibility and we have sometimes even fought them!), We will be able to then demonstrate to Europe that technical inspection via independent operators is useless because it is ineffective, whereas the measures taken are already bearing effects.”

What does the turnaround by the President of the Republic mean? And will French riders really be subject to this obligation one day? All the answers to your main questions.

How long has the technical control project for two-wheelers existed?

1992: introduction of compulsory technical control for cars. The European Union expresses the wish to deploy the same device for powered two- and three-wheelers.

Early 2000s: Professionals in the sector, united under the banner of CITA (International Committee for Automotive Technical Inspection), use their influence to bring the project to fruition. The potential market is then estimated between 1.5 and 2 billion euros, which whets appetites.

2007: Although supported by biased studies, CITA’s arguments are taken up in France by the Economic and Social Council, which recommends compulsory technical inspections for motorcycles and mopeds. The proposal is rejected almost immediately by the French government

2012: The National Assembly and the Senate vote definitively against this measure. This French position was reaffirmed in the European Parliament at a meeting of the Union’s transport ministers.

2014: The intense lobbying of technical inspection operators, especially by the German group Dekra, ends up bearing fruit and European directive 2014/45/EU is proclaimed. This text provides for the establishment from 1 January 2022 of a technical inspection for motorized vehicles with two and three wheels with a cylinder capacity greater than 125 cm³.

Summer 2021: This European directive (adopted in 2014) prompted the French Directorate General for Energy and Climate (DGEC) to publish an implementing decree on 11 August 2021, after which the President of the Republic requests its suspension the next day.

Does Europe really impose the establishment of a technical inspection for motorcycles?
Yes and no, because following the opposition of France during the European vote of 2012, an alternative regime was provided for by the text of the law. Indeed, the European directive specifies in its scope that “Member States may exclude the following vehicles registered in their territory from the scope of application of this Directive: vehicles in categories L3e, L4e, L5e and L7e, with an engine displacement of more than 125 cm3, where the Member State has put in place effective alternative road safety measures for two- or three-wheel vehicles, taking into account in particular relevant road safety statistics covering the last five years. Member States shall notify such exemptions to the Commission”.

Written by Wim Taal

Sources: Mutuelle des Motards & FFMC

Top photograph courtesy of Acko

This article is subject to FEMA’s copyright