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Swedish motorcyclists are critical about Europe’s driving license’ proposals

Swedish motorcyclists’ organisation SMC has responded to the EU Commission’s proposal for a new driver’s license directive.

SMC notes with disappointment that no changes have been made regarding the part concerning driving licenses for motorcycles and mopeds despite many contributions over the years from the SMC and other national and European motorcyclists’ associations.

However, the SMC – a member of FEMA – is positive about the proposal on the effect of certain driving license revocations within the Union. With the continuously increased mobility within the EU, it is of course also important to create better opportunities to jointly prosecute traffic offences, regardless of where they occur and regardless of the nationality of the person guilty of the offences.

SMC welcomes the introduction of digital driving licences. Our view is that digital driving licenses can contribute to reduced administration for the relevant authorities as well as for the license holders, facilitate the handling of checks and traffic offences, and provide practical benefits in everyday life for the license holders. SMC hopes that the reduced administrative burden for the authority frees up resources for other measures to increase road safety and better infrastructure. If there will be physical driver’s licenses in parallel with digital driver’s licenses, it is of course, as the commission points out, of great importance that the information in both forms of driver’s license is identical for one and the same driver’s license holder. However, it is important that the possibility of issuing physical driving licenses remains, e.g., for people who, for various reasons, are not used to or comfortable with digital solutions. However, SMC would like to point out that the introduction does not add any concrete proposal to increase traffic safety, nor any measure for self-evident actions against dangerous behaviour in traffic.

According to the proposal, driving licenses with authorization AM, A1, A2, A, B, B1 and BE must have a validity period of 15 years, which we consider to be a reasonable period and an improvement compared to the current 10 years (in Sweden). Renewal of driver’s license entails an administrative burden for both the license holder and the authority that issues the driver’s license, SMC considers the proposal as an improvement that should give more resources to the Swedish Transport Administration to work further with traffic safety and Vision Zero.

‘Repeating the same test on several occasions has no proven effect on road safety.’

There are no studies that prove that a step-by-step driving license qualification to the A driving license has added an increased and positive effect on road safety. Most people wait until they turn 24 before getting an A license and thus miss out on the experience of riding a motorcycle with less power. In addition, a similar motorcycle is used when driving up to the A2 driving license as for the A driving license, but with a limited effect, so in principle the same vehicle. Repeating the same test on several occasions has no proven effect on road safety. The focus should instead be on education and risk awareness to get a self-assessing driver who strategically adapts his driving to the traffic and infrastructure.

Variation in implementation of the previous EU driving license directive is contrary to harmonisation.
Several member states provide the option to add a national code to the driving license which allows the holder to drive a small motorcycle (<125cc or electric equivalent) with a B driving license and certain additional requirements (age, experience, education) in their own country. In our view, harmonization and the ability to drive small motorcycles with a B driving license and additional cross-border requirements are required to provide alternative transport where other modes of transport such as public transport or active mobility are not suitable or available. The SMC believes that such a system should be partly binding on all Member States in order to strengthen the EU’s fundamental basis, namely free movement. Several EU citizens have experience from their home country of commuting to work with a lighter scooter and thus contribute to increased sustainable travel.

‘It is regrettable that the EU’s proposal has not even revised the part that concerns the electrification of the vehicle fleet regarding motorcycles and mopeds.’

Based on experiences from Vision Electric, SMC states that there is a large percentage of people who are prepared to drive an electric motorcycle vehicle that better suits their needs in terms of, for example, work commuting or other activities. A1 vehicles are the fastest growing part of the motorcycle industry. They are carbon neutral vehicles that are available to more people than electric cars are. Here is a golden opportunity that the EU and its member states should not miss for sustainable travel, better air quality and less noise in our cities!

The SMC notes that no change has been made to the conditions for on-board vehicle requirements regarding the ratio of net power to curb weight for motorcycles powered by an electric motor. The current situation makes it impossible to take a riding exam with an electric motorcycle. This is because the curb weight of an electric vehicle is calculated without the battery and thus the current requirements for the ratio between the net power and the curb weight of the vehicle for taking the test are not met.

We are seeing increased awareness of environmental issues, including climate change and air pollution, which has led many people to look for cleaner alternatives to combustion vehicles. Not least, however, the SMC states that the EU has put forward the most comprehensive investment ever to speed up climate change and contribute to reducing the EU’s emissions, namely EU Fit 55. It is regrettable that the EU’s proposal for a new driver’s license directive has not even revised a part that specifically concerns the electrification of the vehicle fleet regarding motorcycles and mopeds.

Current regulations on driver training and driving tests are crucial to prevent fatal accidents and serious injuries in traffic. The knowledge requirements for obtaining a driver’s license have not been revised in line with the technical development that the vehicles have had. Advanced driver assistance systems are being phased in at a rapid pace on the road to self-driving vehicles. The assistance systems have limitations of which it is important that the driver is aware. The driver role will require more skills to monitor the vehicle’s systems in the future as technology advances. Candidates must have knowledge of how the technology works, how to detect that it is not working and what actions must be taken if the system does not work.

Source: SMC

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