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Driving Tests: Motorcycles

Volume 487: debated on Monday 26 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport for what reasons his Department decided to implement the new motorcycle test on 30 March 2009; and (a) how many and (b) what percentage of multi-purpose test centres will be operational from that date. (250921)

The new motorcycle test was due to be implemented on 29 September in accordance with the EU directive 2000/56/EC. However, the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) recognised that having 38 multi-purpose test centres (MPTCs) operational at the launch of the new test would mean candidates in significant parts of Great Britain would not have the expected access to a MPTC. 58 per cent. of the population would have been able to reach a MPTC within 45 minutes travelling time. Following consideration of representations from motorcycle interest groups, DSA decided to defer implementation for six months to allow consideration of delivery options which might help with the number of locations to offer the test when it was launched.

Since then we have been consulting on a modular approach to practical motorcycle testing. If adopted, DSA will split the off-road from the on-road part of the test.

By 30 March, DSA will have in place up to 67 operational sites including part-time and temporary sites for the off-road elements. In addition, there are outstanding planning approvals or legal negotiations on a further five sites that the Agency hopes to have ready in time. Not all of these sites are MPTCs. We will have operational sites in 94 per cent. of the original 66 search areas. This means that 89 per cent. of the population could reach a motorcycle testing site within 45 minutes travelling time. DSA will have 104 locations delivering the on-road test.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the maximum distance learner drivers and motorcyclists should have to travel from their homes in order to take their driving tests. (250922)

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given to the hon. Member for Mid-Dorset and North Poole (Annette Brooke) on 20 January 2009, Official Report, column 1298W.