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New Swedish riders find motorcycle licence too expensive

With the current European rules for driving licences under review, Swedish motorcyclists’ organisation SMC takes a closer look at how Swedes experience their journey to become licenced riders.

SMC – a member of FEMA – conducted a survey of those who have taken a driving licence in the period 2018-2021. In total 629 riders responded.

The European Commission wants to revise the driving licence legislation; FEMA asks the Commission to shift the focus from technical skills to better risk awareness and the ability to handle unexpected situations.

The European Commission takes the next step to new driving licence legislation and has published a ‘Roadmap’ to a revision of the Directive on driving licences. In this roadmap the Commission defines several problems and initiatives to tackle them.

In FEMA’s view, the revision must be used to solve several problems that we have already addressed for a long time. In general, FEMA asks for a change of direction from the present focus on technical skills at low speeds, to higher skills that leads to better risk awareness and preparation to handle unexpected situations. This can be done without raising the threshold to obtain a full A-licence by making different choices and to make it easier to go through the stages from A1 to A.

We also draw attention to the present structure of the Directive regarding training- and test motorcycles, which makes that women and smaller men are still unnecessarily excluded. A change in the demands on trainings- and test motorcycles could change that. Finally, we ask for a further harmonization with respect to trailers and the possibility to ride a light motorcycle with a B-licence in all member states.

The survey shows that students are well educated in both traffic schools and private practice driving, that they are middle-aged, that they think that the waiting times for theory and driving tests are too long, that the driving licence is expensive and that the manoeuvring part gets too much focus in the driving licence training and tests. Women invest more in education in both traffic school and private but are rejected more often than men.

  • A third of those who responded were women, which makes women overrepresented since they only make up a tenth of the driving licence holders and motorcycle owners.
  • According to the survey there are hardly any young people who get a driving licence for motorcycles. The largest group of respondents are among the 45-54-year-olds. The vast majority take A-qualifications directly, which is in line with the Swedish Transport Administration’s statistics on driving tests.
  • Three-quarters of those who responded have practiced riding privately and have on average ridden 470 kilometres over five months. Nearly 92 percent have attended licence training in a traffic school and – on average – taken 17.7 lessons.
  • Women have been exercising longer distances than men and have been riding for a long time. Women have been students in traffic school to a greater extent than men. The women have also participated in continuing education with SMC to a greater extent during licence training.
  • Few of those who have attended a traffic school have received theory training there. Several comments suggest that apps with driving licence questions have been a better tool for the theoretical test than course literature. More people have used apps than books. Women have bought course literature and apps to a greater extent than men.
  • On average, they had to wait 37 days for the first theoretical test, but the time varies from one day to a year. 85 percent passed the test on the first attempt and nine out of ten felt that they were well prepared.
  • Three-quarters rented motorcycles from traffic school in connection with the driving test while the others drove their own bike. The rental price during the driving test varies from just under a SEK 1.000 (€96) to just over SEK 3.000 (€288). Most often, the rent is between SEK 1,000-2,000 (€96-€192).
  • The comments on test vehicles were mainly that you should be able to choose any vehicle that is included in the respective driving licence class and that you should be able to carry out the test on your own motorcycle, but that it is difficult as the test area is adapted to a certain motorcycle model.
  • On average, 65 days had to be waited for the first driving test. Just under half were given time within 30 days, while just over a quarter had to wait more than 61 days for the first test.
  • 28 percent of those who attended traffic school, booked tests themselves, the remaining 72 percent were booked by the traffic school.
  • Just under two-thirds were approved at the first driving test. A third failed in low speed and a third in the high-speed lane. A quarter were disapproved when driving in traffic. Women were rejected much more than men.
  • Of those who failed, only 14 per cent were allowed to continue driving in traffic for the driver examiner to receive an overall assessment. For the others, the test in the control part was discontinued. 85% of respondents said they were well prepared for the driving test.
  • On average, failed students had to wait 35 days to take a new driving test. Some will respond next year. The person who had to wait the longest for driving test number two answered a year.

425 people submitted closing comments in the survey. Many are in favour of training, but even more have comments with suggestions for changes in driving licence training and driving tests. Many people already have a driving licence and thus have experience in traffic. The most common comment is that there is too much focus on the control part, in both driving tests and driving licence training. Other comments are that education and tests are expensive, that it is difficult to book times both in traffic school and for tests, that exams are stopped in the control part and candidates are not allowed to continue with their test in traffic, even though they already have an A1 or A2 rating.

“We look forward to a revision and changes in the motorcycle part of the present driving licence directive. Meanwhile we cooperate with the driving licence authorities and the traffic schools, where our common goal is to change focus in the test from the manoeuvre parts to riding in traffic. We’ve also stated that the differences between men and women, which have been known for decades, must come to an end”, say SMC’s Jesper Christensen and Maria Nordqvist.

Source: SMC

Top photograph by Maria Nordqvist

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