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Motor Cycle Training

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has for encouraging the extension of voluntary schemes of motor cycle training.

The Royal Automobile Club and the Auto Cycle Union have a training scheme for motor cyclists which they operate in conjunction with local authorities at about 250 centres. The schools traffic education programme, which is sponsored by the motor cycle industry, has recently prepared plans for a national scheme. I welcome this initiative and am studying it urgently, together with other proposals to reduce casualties among motor cycle and moped riders.

I am grateful to the Minister for the tributes that he has paid to the voluntary side of training for motor cyclists. He will be aware, as many of us are aware, of the awful vulnerability of motor cyclists to accidents. Have the Government any proposals for further encouraging the voluntary training of motor cyclists?

As I said, we are looking at this matter as closely and as urgently as we can, with every intention of trying to be positive about the matter. The real problem is to catch people early. It is in the first weeks or months of a young person's possession of a moped or a motor cycle that he is most vulnerable. That is the area on which we really want to home in.

Does the Under-Secretary realise the harm that he has done by announcing on a BBC television programme that mopeds are capable of excessive speeds, which they are not capable of achieving?

In fact, we introduced a regulation, which will come into force this summer, to reduce the design speed of mopeds to cope with this problem. Therefore, even if the problem exists—I gather that the hon. Gentleman thinks that it does—it will not exist in the future.

Is there not perhaps insufficient financial incentive for young motor cyclists to have training and, ultimately, to take the test? Apparently it is almost as cheap to continue using a machine without having passed the test as it is having passed the test.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is one of the salient points. People can go on with provisional licences year after year, and there is no real incentive to take the test. That is precisely the sort of point that we are looking at in the course of the comprehensive review that we are now undertaking.

Now that it is the Government's policy to drive more people from motor cars to motor cycles, does the Minister accept that there is a great deal of apathy among young people towards taking this kind of training? Therefore, will he make a special attempt to take into schools the teaching of the necessity to undergo training?

The new efforts of the people who run the schools traffic education programme are designed precisely to that end. They already have an expanding programme in schools. That is a sensible thing. However, we need to consider whether that is the right way to approach the matter in total. Other things are needed as well, but we are certainly pursuing that line.