Initial rider training in Europe does not meet riders' needs. Improving pre-licence training will reduce the number of riders killed and injured.
The representative organisations of the motorcycling community: FEMA the European road riding motorcyclists' federation, FIM the World motorcycle sport federation and ACEM, the European motorcycle manufacturers' association, agree that initial rider training in Europe does not meet riders' needs.
They believe that improved pre-licence training will reduce the number of riders killed and injured
The provision of initial rider training in Europe, that is the training that is needed to obtain the necessary knowledge and skills to safely ride a scooter or a motorcycle and gain an A category licence, varies widely within the 25 Member States of the European Union.
Ranging from the virtually non-existent to the extensive and very expensive, the existing national arrangements often fail the trainee rider through concentrating on machine control skills and overlooking crucial areas such as rider attitude and behaviour and hazard awareness and avoidance.
These were among the conclusions of a study undertaken in 1997 (Initial Rider Training in Europe-the Views and the Needs of the Riders) by the then Federation of European Motorcyclists, now FEMA, which was supported by ACEM and FIM. Whilst some of the problems it identified may have improved in some of the then 15 Member States, it is generally believed that the expansion of the European Union has resulted in an overall worsening and a growing belief that the development of a European approach to initial rider training could make a considerable contribution to reducing accidents amongst this group of vulnerable road users.
This view was shared by the European Commission, Vägverket, the Swedish road traffic authority and IVV, the international instructors' organisation, who agreed to support a project to develop a European approach to initial rider training and participate in its work.
Training is recognised by the motorcycling community as a key element to improve motorcycle safety. OECD members recently confirmed this view, putting training programmes on the top of their priority list : “Countries have different training needs, based on their vehicle fleet and training resources. Motorcycle training should therefore build on existing standards, focus on risk awareness and risk avoidance, and develop an understanding of the rider/motorcycle capacities and limitations.”
The efficacy of rider training within the European Union, indeed the very existence of rider training in a number of Member States, are areas of consideration that have manifested as a consequence of the development of a harmonised European driving licence. Whilst the means by which a person acquires the knowledge and skills to satisfy the defined criteria is not yet addressed, it is an area of considerable interest.
The need to understand the different and distinct approaches adopted in Member States were the starting point. The views and the need of the Rider project (1997) identified rider training up to the standard required to pass an official test of competency that was applying in Member States, and categorised and evaluated the various distinct approaches. The following project Developing a European Approach to the Initial Training of Motorcyclists (2008) then considered the acknowledged problems of pre-licence rider training in Europe.
The relationship between newly qualified rider overconfidence, failing to recognise hazards and take risks and pre licence training that has overly focussed on machine control skills, has been recognised for a long time. However, today’s training programmes overwhelmingly concentrates on machine control skills to the detriment of hazard awareness and rider attitude and behaviour. An innovative approach was therefore developed by acknowledged experts.
The programme was also structured in a modular and pedagogic way for use in
all kind of training circumstances.
This new approach to training delivers machine controls skills in the context of their relevance to the hazardous environment of today’s roads, with an understanding of the rider having a primary responsibility for his or her own safety, a real improvement to much of the pre licence training presently available to riders within the European Union.
The IRT Project also considered the innovative area of e-Coaching to improving initial rider training, in exposing riders to virtual hazardous situations without putting them at risk. The e-Coaching approach is viewed by the project experts as having the potential to make a significant contribution to safety of riders.
The essential elements of a training programme:
The project will firstly seek to identify the essential elements of initial rider training programmes that are required for a person to qualify for a licence and be able to ride a motorcycle safely. They will include necessary and relevant machine control skills, a knowledge and understanding of traffic rules and regulations, the importance of attitude and behaviour and hazard recognition, avoidance or management.
Delivering training in a range of social circumstances:
The second area of objectives will consider the differing demographic and economic circumstances that exist within the European Union and seek to develop and recommend different approaches for delivering quality initial rider training in the differing circumstances.
e-Coaching - evaluating the potential of interactive games technology:
An evaluation of the potential of digital interactive games technology to assist in developing a rider's understanding of the importance of hazard awareness and avoidance techniques and of rider attitude and behaviour is the third area of objectives. The project will make recommendations to the European Commission on the potential of e-Coaching and the ways in which it could be developed.
The way forward:
The fourth objective of the Initial Rider Training project will be to recommend to the European Commission a strategy for the development of the identified essential elements and the means of delivering the training, including the e-Coaching aspects, into a comprehensive, cohesive and cost-effective European Initial Rider Training initiative.
To consider and deliver conclusions and recommendations on:
With the support of