Page last updated at 00:50 GMT, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

UK's new motorcycle test centres 'waste of money'

Motorcycle trainee and trainer
The new test was introduced in April 2009

Millions of pounds have been wasted on a government decision to close down local motorcycle test sites, a report from MPs has concluded.

The Commons Transport Committee also said many learners now make long journeys on "fast and dangerous" roads to attend their nearest centre.

The centres - set up after a Europe-wide motorcycle exam started last April - are shared with other vehicles.

The Driving Standards Agency says it is committed to safety.

The new motorcycle examination includes manoeuvres which the UK decided should be tested in off-road locations.

Many existing test centres were not large enough, so the government acquired 66 new sites where motorbike, car and some large goods vehicle tests could all be taken.

'Little gain'

The cross-party Transport Committee said "the new combination of tests is likely to help improve road safety, provided that the government and the industry work together, and that training for other road users to improve their awareness of motorcyclists on the road is improved too".

This adds to the cost, and in some cases, exposes candidates to fast and dangerous roads on the way to a test site
Louise Ellman, committee chairman

But it criticised the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) for delays in opening the centres.

They were introduced in an "inept" way, causing "significant cost and inconvenience to test candidates and trainers with little apparent gain," the report said .

It added that no other country in Europe had found it necessary to build so-called super test centres.

The smaller sites could have been retained saving millions of pounds, and the DSA had failed to listen adequately to the motorcycle industry, the MPs said.

The committee added it was unacceptable that all 66 planned centres were not yet operational.

'Raising standards'

The committee's chairman, Louise Ellman, said: "Many candidates and trainers now have to travel too far for their motorcycle test.

"This adds to the cost, and in some cases, exposes candidates to fast and dangerous roads on the way to a test site".

The DSA says 88% of the population should be able to get to one of the new centres within 45 minutes.

A spokesman said: "Motorcycle fatalities have fallen by almost 30% since 2003, but we are determined to continue working with the industry to improve safety and raise riding standards.

"We welcome the committee's support for our decision to make the motorcycle test more robust and their acknowledgement that this is likely to improve road safety."

He added: "The new multi-purpose test centres provide motorcycle and driving test candidates with safe, spacious and modern testing facilities, replacing older, less well-equipped centres."

The spokesman said the DSA would respond fully to all recommendations in the report at a later date.

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