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MEPs: ‘Technical inspections will make motorcycling less dangerous’

In the discussions about mandatory periodic technical inspections for motorcycles, a number of politicians seem to base their opinion on assumptions, rather than facts.

In January 2021, fuelled by the lobby of road safety organization ETSC and testing company DEKRA, members of the transport committee of the European Parliament, suddenly showed a large concern for the safety of motorcyclists and moped riders. They even went as far as that they wanted a mandatory European periodic technical inspection (PTI) for all powered two- and three-wheelers.

This took place in a debate about draft “Implementation report on the road safety aspects of the Roadworthiness Package which includes the technical inspections of vehicles”, that is regulated in the Periodic Roadworthiness Tests Directive (2014/45/EU). The arguments where that motorcycling is dangerous and PTI would make it less dangerous, as ‘proven’ by a report that was written on behalf of the European Commission by a consortium of CITA (The International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee), CVH (Center for Vehicles of Croatia), DEKRA (vehicle inspection company), IERC GmbH (The Institute for Economic Research and Consulting) and ISVA-UC3M (the Institute of Motor Vehicle Safety belonging to the Carlos III University of Madrid).

At least three of these organizations have a vested economic interest in technical inspections but didn’t stop the European Commission (DG MOVE) to hire these stakeholders to write a report to “assess the benefit of including two- and three wheelers and light trailers within the framework of periodic inspection of vehicles and to propose the precise way to do so.”

With a consortium like this it is hard to believe that the outcome could be anything other than inclusion of trailers and two- and three wheelers in the Directive 2014/45/EU (the technical inspection directive) would be beneficial. And so it happened. More interesting is how they came to their conclusion: the accident numbers with mopeds in a number of regions in Spain were compared before and after implementation of PTI for mopeds and the results were extrapolated to all powered two- and three-wheelers in entire Europe. Why bother to do some proper research when you can do it this way?

Our Finnish member organization SMOTO did a perfect assessment of the report from a scientific point of view and came to a devastating conclusion. SMOTO also published a report that shows how these kind of analyses should be done. This report concludes that PTI of motorcycles is not a cost-effective method for enhancing road safety for motorcycling and mopeds or reducing their environmental load. The focus must be on other measures.

Position papers and reports of organizations like ETSC (using outdated information) and DEKRA focus on defects of powered two-wheelers (PTWs) that were involved in accidents, without differentiating between small and big defect and, without any proof, state that these defects contribute to (DEKRA) or even caused (ETSC) the accidents in which said motorcycles were involved. In-depth research from 2005 (MAIDS report) and 2019 (SaferWheels) show that technical defects hardly play a role in motorcycle accidents. It is like the old saying ‘never ruin a good story by looking at the facts’.

‘FEMA asks the members of the European Parliament not to base their decisions on assumptions, but on facts’

After the debate in the transport committee of the European Parliament on 25 January 2021 about the implementation of the roadworthiness package in which also the PTI was mentioned, FEMA and member organizations SMC and SMOTO reached out to the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are in the transport committee (TRAN), and especially to the rapporteurs and shadow rapporteurs.

We had some good feedback and had some talks with MEPs and the rapporteur who is responsible for the draft “Implementation report on the road safety aspects of the Roadworthiness Package (2019/2205(INI))”, Benoît Lutgen. We provided them with the facts and asked them not to base their decisions on assumptions, but on facts. We will continue to do this until a final decision has been reached.

Written by Dolf Willigers

Top photograph by Andrea Piacquadio

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