UK: New requirements to Improve safety for motorcyclists, lorry and bus drivers

Proposals to improve skills and safety for new motorcycle riders, drivers of lorries and buses and new drivers who want to tow medium sized trailers were published today by the Department for Transport (DfT) in conjunction with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
The measures are contained in a consultation on the implementation of new European requirements on driver testing, training, examination and licensing which come into force in 2013. Other motorists will not be affected.
The main aspects of the new requirements are:
  • Motorcyclists – The current two categories of motorbike will be replaced with three – A1 (up to 125cc), A2 (up to 35Kw) and A (above 35Kw) - and new rules introduced for riders of larger bikes. Riders wanting to progress to larger categories of motorbikes will have to take additional training or a further test and there will be a rise in the minimum age from 21 to 24 for those wishing to start riding larger bikes without previous experience.
  • Trailer towing- New car and light van drivers wanting to tow trailers may also be affected. The consultation proposes that drivers will be able to tow a slightly larger trailer on a normal car driving licence (category B), if they take a further test or undertake training. There will also be a restriction on the overall size of the vehicle/trailer combination that can be driven on a category B+E licence entitlement (car/light van plus trailer).
  • Licence renewals for bus and lorry drivers – at present, drivers of medium-sized and large buses and lorries need to renew their licences every five years once they reach the age of 45. Over-45s also need to demonstrate their fitness to drive through a full medical report. From 2013, under-45s who drive these vehicles will also need to confirm medical fitness and renew their licence every five years. However, under-45s will not require a full medical report and will still only need to renew their photograph every 10 years. All other drivers and riders will continue to renew their driving licences every 10 years as is currently the case. 
  • Driving examiners – Compulsory initial qualification, periodic training and quality assurance checks for driving examiners will be required for driving examiners. The DSA already fulfils most of these requirements but the introduction of periodic training will enhance these existing arrangements.
Rosemary Thew, Chief Executive of the Driving Standards Agency which is responsible for delivering driver testing and setting standards for driver training, said:
“It’s important that everyone has the skills they need to drive or ride safely.
"We are already working closely with the groups and industries that will be affected by these new requirements. I urge anyone with an interest in road safety to respond to the consultation and give us their views on how these new measures should be introduced.”
Noel Shanahan, Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency which is responsible for the administration of driver licences and vehicle registration, said:
“The UK haulage and bus industry operate to high levels of safety and the vast majority of drivers in the industry already ensure that they are fit to drive and notify the DVLA if they have any concerns. This new measure will provide an additional reminder but we are proposing to introduce this in a way that minimises the impact on drivers."
The consultation 'Driver Testing, Training, Examining And Licensing: Implementing New European Union Requirements' begins today and will close on 5 February 2010. The consultation can be found at: