Drop in under-19s taking test continues

90% fall following rule changes

THE number of under-19s to complete a motorcycle test fell by over 90% following the introduction of new licence rules, latest government figures show.

Between April 2012 and March 2013, 6,788 riders aged 17-18 took both parts of the practical motorcycle test.  In the following 12 months the number of 16-18-year-olds to do the same was just 599.

It’s the second set of quarterly government figures showing dramatic decline, after a similar pattern was revealed in June.

The drop follows new rules introduced in January 2013 restricting all 17-18-year-olds to 125cc whether or not they pass a test. Previously, anyone over 17 could take a test to gain a full bike licence, restricted to 33hp for the first two years.

Now, 17-18 year-olds are free to take a test but passing will only gain them a full licence for a 125, which they can already ride as a learner anyway. To ride anything bigger they must pass a test on a more powerful machine aged at least 19, whether or not they took the trouble of gaining a full licence for a 125.

They then face a further two years with an ‘A2’ licence, restricted 48hp, before taking yet another test to get an unrestricted licence. An alternative route is to take a single ‘Direct Access’ test for an unrestricted licence but this is only open to over-24s.

Some decline in test numbers is to be expected following the introduction of new rules, since many people rush to get a licence before the changes. However, even two years before the latest changes the number of under-19s taking the test was six times the figure afterward.

Between April 2010 and March 2011, 3,671 riders aged 17-18 completed both parts of a practical motorcycle test. In the same period in 2011-2012, the number was 4,957.

The total number of motorcycle tests is also down, from 44,889 in 2012-2013 to 30,453 in 2013-2014. In 2011-2012 the number was 39,926 and the year before that 34,484.

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