NMC Urges the UK Government to Take Advantage of Motorcycle Safety Opportunities Missed by the EU

EU safety policy deficiencies offers the UK Government an opportunity to go further

March 2, 2023

In a busy week for road safety policy in the EU, the European Commission launched its Road Safety Package. Presented yesterday in Brussels by Commissioner Adina Valean, the Package focuses on changes to the EU driving licence regime. These include digital driving licences, more focus on risk factors and hazard perception, limited changes to licence categories, enforcement and advanced vehicle technologies.  Updated testing rules will take account of the transition to zero emission vehicles and teaching novice drivers about how driving styles impact on emissions.

Although the Commission state that the proposed rules will; ‘prepare drivers better for … driving on city roads, alongside more bicycles and two-wheelers …’ This is later clarified as; ‘… help improve safety for pedestrians, cyclists, as well as users of e-scooters and e-bikes as the EU transitions to more sustainable urban mobility.’ Motorcycles, among the most vulnerable of all road user groups, are not mentioned.

NMC Partners, the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) are not impressed. FEMA General Secretary Dolf Willigers said: “With respect to the driving licences for motorcyclists there are no changes. It shows that the European Commission has done nothing with our comments and recommendations during the years that we have discussed this. This is a very disappointing conclusion.”

The European Commission’s announcement comes as FEMA and FIM Europe, also an NMC partner, sent an open letter to the European institutions and Member State governments to take action on the numbers of motorcycle crashes that end up with fatalities and serious injuries.  Among several recommendations, the letter calls for inclusion of motorcyclists in mobility and road safety policies, better roads, improved education and training, better technical standards for motorcycles and conspicuity and to create effective promotional campaigns on both the use of protective clothing and to tackle risky behaviours from all road users.

Although the EU’s Road Safety Package will not directly apply in the UK, the NMC feels that the UK Government has an opportunity to take advantage of positive measures that have been missed by the European Commission in relation to motorcycle safety.  Organisations such as the Parliamentary Advisory Group on Transport Safety (PACTS) have recently highlighted how the UK has slipped down the road safety ‘rankings’ in the European area in recent years. PACTS highlighted ETSC, DfT and OECD figures that show how the UK has slipped from 1st to 5th position since 2011. An opportunity now exists for the UK to turn things around so it can become leaders in motorcycle safety policy.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “The NMC is in active discussion with the Department for Transport and its agencies on a range of measures that will make a real difference to safety. Fundamental to this is the recognition of motorcycling as a positive component in current and future transport policies, as this will unlock safety investment both nationally and locally which can be targeted on rider friendly road infrastructure, education of all road users and positive measures for mobility by those who chose to ride. The UK is also in a position to revise training and testing regulations so that high standards can be linked to an updated regime which is easier for novice riders to understand and easier to access, as set out in the NMC’s proposals.

“The Government’s new Motorcycle Strategic Focus Group is a very positive first step towards creating better overall transport and road safety policies and we will be urging the group to consider where the UK can become world leaders in creating proactive policies towards motorcycle use and safety.”


Notes for Editors:

1. For further comment from the NMC please contact Craig Carey-Clinch, on 07979 757484 / craig@uknmc.org.

2. FEMA comment on road safety improvement is here: https://www.femamotorcycling.eu/motorcyclists-call-for-road-safety/

3. FEMA comment on the the EU's Road Safety Package is here: https://www.femamotorcycling.eu/new-driving-licence-proposal/

4. National Motorcyclists Council members are: The Auto Cycle Union, BikeSocial, BikeTrac, the British Motorcyclists Federation, IAM RoadSmart, the National Motorcycle Dealers Association, Plantec Assist, the Trail Riders Fellowship and the Vintage Motor Cycle Club.