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Give your opinion on the current European driving licence

Do you want to give your opinion on the current European driving licence? This is your chance! The European Commission started a public consultation to help evaluate the Third Driving Licence Directive.

After the first Driving Licence Directive in 1980, the second in 1991 we saw the third Driving Licence Directive being adopted in 2006 (it became applicable in 2013). After a number of years European laws must be evaluated, and the European Commission already started this in 2017. Now it is time for the next step and the good news is: we can all have our say. As usual, the European Commission started a public consultation on 28 October which will last until 20 January 2021 and she invites all stakeholders to participate. To go to the survey, click here.

Before you can start you must make an account, just a log-in name and a password, nothing more. The survey is not only about the A licence, but is about all licences, with some questions that are specific about the A licence. Of course, for FEMA the survey is already completed by us, but you can participate as a private person or as a representative of an organization. According to the European Commission, the results of the evaluation will be taken into consideration to determine if changes and/or improvements are necessary to the Driving Licence Directive.

‘The present test requirements for the motorcycle licence have little to do with road safety’

As FEMA we have strong views about training and testing. In our view, the present test requirements for the motorcycle licence have little to do with road safety. They are for a large part focussed on low-speed technical skills. It’s good to have those skills, but they don’t make you a safe rider. For that you need what is called higher skills. You need the ability to predict and recognize possible dangerous situations and act properly. You need to be aware of the unexpected and react in the right way. These are the skills that make you survive on the road and that save lives, not walking backwards into a virtual parking space next to your motorcycle.

We also have our doubts about the staged entry to a full motorcycle licence. Although it seems logical that it is better to start with a light motorcycle, there isn’t any scientific evidence yet that this is indeed the case. Most accidents, even fatal ones, do not happen at high speeds for which you need a larger and faster motorcycle. Another aspect of the staged entry is the time consuming and costly way it takes to get a full A licence. The official way to that is three times training and/or testing, which not only makes it just expensive and time consuming, but in many occasions provides a too large threshold for potential riders. In some countries, holes in the national legislation makes it possible to avoid one or more tests or training obligations and riders make good use of these unintended possibilities. So, what is the gain then?

Together with FIM Europe we have drafted a position paper about the initial rider training with some recommendations. These are:

  • Initial rider training must teach the skills, knowledge and attitude needed to survive on the road, not just the skills needed to pass a licence test.
  • Initial rider training should arrive from the EU/FEMA/FIM/ACEM Initial Rider Training Program and be described in detail in an agreed, national curriculum for category A.
  • The licence test is a quality assurance of the candidate’s competence, meaning the minimum skills, knowledge and attitude needed to safely operate a motorcycle on public roads, and it is of great importance that the licence test is designed to do exactly that.
  • Risk awareness and risk management should be part of the licence tests.
  • The licence test should not expose candidates to peculiar exercises with little relevance to real‐life safe riding, the consequence being that perfectly competent candidates may fail the test, while questionable candidates, who have “learned the tricks”, may pass.
  • All training, testing and demand for test vehicles should be gender neutral.
  • A stepped access with one practical and one theoretical test after a cost-effective training coached by trained instructors might encourage riders to start riding on smaller and less powerful bikes.
  • Instructors and examiners should ideally be practising riders and should have participated in an officially recognised instructors /examiner’s training programme derived from the agreed, national curriculum for category A.

Written by Dolf Willigers

Top photograph courtesy of KNMV

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