Given that motorcyclists remain one of the most vulnerable types of road user (currently accounting for around 19% of deaths or serious injuries on Britain’s roads) , it perhaps goes without saying that they need as much education as possible in terms of staying safe. We receive enquiries every week to our motorbike accident claims page from injured riders looking to make a compensation claim. More info on motorbike accident stats here.
In response to this, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (“DVSA”) continually looks to improve motorcycle training and regularly consults with associated bodies in order to prepare new riders for the realities of riding on today’s modern roads. 
Ultimately, however, the question on everyone’s lips is – does the current motorbike test educate new riders enough or could the learning process still be improved upon? Let’s take a closer look.
How are motorcyclists currently educated?
The first step any new motorcyclist must take in order to pass their test is to attend a compulsory basic training course (“CBT”). This test is offered by numerous providers across the UK and basically ensures that the rider has a basic understanding of what is required in order to pass the full moped or motorcycle test. These courses are run by qualified instructors who have either been assessed themselves by the DVSA or, in the alternative, have been trained by another approved DVSA-assessed instructor.
How the initial training works
Different course providers will naturally vary the way in which their own CBT course is conducted. However, generally speaking, it usually lasts for a full day and consists of five separate parts, namely:
- Introduction and eyesight check
- On-site training
- On-site riding
- On-road training
- On-road riding (which must last for around 2 hours)
Each stage of the learning process is only progressed once the riding instructor is totally confident that the pupil has both learnt the relevant theory and also shown their practical skills to be of a safe basic level.
Once the instructor is satisfied that the pupil has safely passed each element of the course they’re presented with a certificate of completion (often referred to as a DL196). This then enables the pupil to ride either a moped or motorbike up to 125cc (and with a power output not exceeding 11kw) on the roads, on condition that they clearly display L plates and do not have any passengers.
If the pupil chooses not to complete the full motorbike theory test within 2 years’ then they need complete the CBT again.
Completing the motorbike test
Once the CBT has been completed, new motorcyclists are generally encouraged to gain as much practical experience as possible before going on to complete their theory test. During this time, many pupils sign up for additional lessons – either as part of group training or even on a one-to-one basis which is obviously much more specific and is more capable of addressing any identified learning needs.
Once the theory test has been completed, pupils then need to complete two separate tests, namely the off-road riding test (or the ‘module 1 test’) and the on-road riding test (‘module 2’).
In order to complete module 1 of the current requirement, the pupil must complete a course, which usually lasts around 20 minutes and includes basic manoeuvres and emergency stops (which are completed at a minimum speed of 19mph for mopeds and 31mph on a motorbike). The pupil must have no more than five minor riding faults and absolutely no serious or dangerous faults.
If a pupil chooses to take both modules on the same day but fails to pass the first module, then he or she must wait for three working days before being able to progress to module 2.
The second part of testing takes around 40 minutes to complete and includes an eyesight check, correctly answering two vehicle safety questions and doing more on-road riding, albeit more independently than that of the first module. The assessment will usually involve the pupil being tested in various road and traffic conditions (excluding motorways) and will typically include normal stops, angle and hill starts. A pass mark requires no serious or dangerous faults and no more than 10 minor riding faults.
These tests can either be completed separately or at the same time, although module 1 must always be passed before module 2 and a fee is payable in respect of each. Of course, during this time, help and advice should always be made available to the pupil and there are several publications which provide written guidance, such as The Official DVSA Guide to Learning to Ride. 
In order to pass both tests then the pupil must be able to demonstrate that:
- They can ride safely in different road and traffic conditions, and
- They can show a clear understanding of the Highway Code.
Does the current test educate riders enough?
As we’ve already seen, there are different methods of learning available to current students which include both practical and theory testing.
On 30th December 2016, both the DVSA and Department for Transport published a consultation paper entitled “Improving moped and motorcycle training.”  The consultation was conducted online and was closed on 17th February 2017 when a number of key recommendations were put forward in order to improve the current testing procedure. There was certainly very strong support for all the proposals put forward during the consultation process and in fact, 2,299 full responses were received, thus adding considerable weight to the various suggestions put forward. These included:-
- Updating the qualification process for motorcycle instructors
- Introducing a combined CBT and DAS instructor qualification assessment for instructors
- Introducing a separate module for those wishing to down train other instructors
- Updating and revising the content and structure of the CBT syllabus
- Strengthening the quality assurance scheme for instructors
- Quality assuring all approved training courses
- Introducing a licence upgrade training course
- Exploring the costs and feasibility of introducing progressive access training (and then consulting more fully once these specific factors have been considered)
- Restricting learner riders to automatic motorcycles if used for CBT
- Introducing the ‘automatic only’ restriction only when the DVLA records can accommodate such changes
- Consulting on how riders with an ‘automatic only’ CBT can look to upgrade their entitlement
- Revoking CBT certificates (in accordance with DVLA system changes)
- Introducing a digital platform in association with both the DVSA and DVLA
- Introducing the requirement for all learner riders to pass their motorcycle theory and hazard perception test prior to completing the CBT
- Developing the criteria for earned recognition with the training industry
As can be seen, there are numerous plans afoot to help and assist new riders and ultimately help to reduce the number of accidents on the roads across the UK.
On the back of the consultation, both riders and trainers alike will be encouraged to learn that various Government agencies are now starting work on taking these proposals forward and will consult back before the end of 2018 when relevant legislative changes and impact assessments are likely to be recommended and implemented.
Suffice it to say, in terms of whether the current motorbike test educates new riders enough, then the definitive answer is most likely ‘yes’ – although, that said, the ongoing consultations will no doubt continue to improve on this and can only make for encouraging news across the board when it comes to safety on the UK’s roads.
 Think! Campaign – http://think.direct.gov.uk/motorcycles.html
 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and Department for Transport, published 30 December 2016 – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/dvsa-sets-out-proposals-to-improve-motorcycle-training
 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and Department for Transport, published 30 December 2016 – https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-moped-and-motorcycle-training