Page last updated at 04:13 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 05:13 UK

Motorbike tests 'chaos' warning

By Andrew Fletcher
BBC Radio 5 live

Motorcycle trainee and trainer
Motorcycle trainers fear people may take to the road without tests

Motorcycle groups are warning that the system for testing new riders could fall into chaos when a new test is introduced later this month.

They say there are not enough test centres to make the system work, and some learners may be discouraged from becoming properly qualified.

From 27 April the motorcycle test in England, Scotland and Wales will include more complicated manoeuvres.

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) says the new test will improve road safety.

The new test is split into two modules and has already come into effect in Northern Ireland.

It is being introduced because of a European Union directive which aims to make the roads safer.

But motorcycle groups fear it may have the opposite effect.

They say the decision by the DSA to make the test available at 66 centres, compared with more than 260 where the current test can be taken, will make it harder to get a test booking.

Steve Manning
Steve Manning fears fewer learners will book lessons

The vast majority of tests are booked by training schools which then offer them to customers as part of a training package.

Steve Manning, of the Advanced Rider Training near Crawley in West Sussex, says he is already struggling to book the new tests and he expects to lose business.

"There just aren't enough of the promised multi-purpose test centres available to deal with the volume of tests we do.

"I would hope to do 10 to 12 module one tests a week. On average I've got six or seven module one tests a week, which is going to cut the availability of our courses in half.

"If people can't get the test at the end of their training they're not going to come and do their training with us."

The cost of training will also go up as instructors face longer journeys with their students to the new tests centres.

Mr Manning says he will only have one test centre within a 20-mile radius of his training school, compared with seven which he currently uses.

The Motorcycle Industry Association thinks the increased cost and difficulty of becoming a qualified motorcycle rider will put some young riders off, and may cause them to take to the roads without a licence.

The DSA delayed the introduction of the new test for six months last September because only 38 of the planned 66 multi-purpose test centres which could offer it were ready.

Since then, six have been added, but the remaining 22 areas have temporary or weekend-only centres.

The DSA hopes to add more permanent test centres, but says already 88% of the population are within 45 minutes' ride of a testing facility.

It says the new test will improve road safety for motorcyclists and other road users.

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