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What is the 3rd European Driving Licence Directive (3DLD)?

3DLD came into effect on the 19th January 2013. 3rd EU Licensing DirectiveThis had quite a large number of changes that impacted on almost anyone wishing to gain a motorcycle licence in the UK.

The principal changes are as follows:

Category P (Moped) will be renamed as Category AM and specifically will not allow a rider to use a moped in excess of 28mph (45kmh). Currently domestic law allows moped’s up to 30mph; since 2003 all new mopeds have been restricted to 28mph. This means that anyone wishing to use a moped that is older than 2003 for CBT won’t be able to, and far more importantly anyone who has a full car licence and is using an old moped will now be un-incensed and own a useless piece of scrap. Will DVLA write to all owners of pre-2003 mopeds to warn them of the potential consequences that await them in 2013? – who knows, but the DSA don’t think this will affect many people.

Category A (Direct Access Scheme) has three important changes. The age of entry goes up from 21 to 24 (because as we all know at 23 you are wholly irresponsible whereas at 24 maturity sets in like mould on an old cheese). Nice to think that you can drive a tank or shoot people in HM Armed Forces, or get a super licence to drive a 700bhp car in Formula 1 but not ride a motorcycle above 35kw/46.6bhp. Well done Europe and well done the UK for deciding to implement this in such a bizarre way. The second change is that the size of the motorcycle for DAS will rise to 600cc and 40kw. Notwithstanding that no student ever uses more than the same power available from your average 250cc motorcycle on test it has been decided that 500cc simply wasn’t enough. Currently, with existing motorcycle models available that meet the 600cc/40kw, they are heavier than most 500’s. For those of a slighter build or shorter leg this will pose extra challenges for the Module 1 test where pushing the bike and U-turns etc. have always been more difficult for smaller people. The third change is that this will now be the only route to a full licence and people will no doubt start seeing 600cc as an entry level motorcycle.

Category A2 (Restricted Licence) also had several changes. You have to be at least 19 to take this test, and once you have passed you will only be able to ride a motorcycle of up to 35kw/46.6bhp (it can be any engine size and can be restricted, however it can't be derived from a bike having more than 70kw as standard or have a power to weight ratio of more than 0.2kw/kg). If you want to gain a full licence you will have to wait for 2 years (or be at least 24) and then take the DAS (albeit you won’t need to re-take the CBT or potential the Theory Test - see below). This will mean doing the same test again but on a 600cc motorcycle. There will no longer be an automatic upgrade to a full licence after two years. To take this test the motorcycle must be at least 400cc and between 25 and 35kw, currently there are few motorcycles on the market that meet this requirement so most schools will either have a restricted version of their DAS bikes (600cc) or restrict their old 500’s to 35kw. So anyone who used to find a 500cc difficult for test will not find this an easier option than DAS. Furthermore as this will almost certainly be run at 2:1 (student:instructor), instead of 4:1 for the old A2, the cost for this licence will be the same as DAS. Some 19, 20 & 21 year olds may see this as a reasonably attractive route but may find the price prohibitive, 22 & 23 year olds will probably wait until they are 24 to avoid having to do the same test twice.

Category A1 (Light Motorcycle Licence) has managed to retain its status as an absolute waste of time. So despite the fact that since 1997 the number of people that have taken this test can probably be numbered in tens it has been decided to keep it. However, brilliantly it has been made even more pointless than before. Essentially anyone aged 17 years or older can take their test on a 125cc motorcycle and get a full licence to ride a 125cc motorcycle. Again to go up to the next level (A2 or DAS) you will need to have waited for two years or be either 19 or 24, and again a re-test will be required. Frankly you would either have to be immune to financial reality or have some very compelling reason (like a disability) to bother with this. Most people will simply do a CBT as it amounts to the same but with L-plates and much, much cheaper.

So in summary 3DLD manages to be as complicated (if not more so) as existing legislation, while introducing the idea of a larger motorcycle as entry level for those taking a full licence and simultaneously making CBT much more attractive as a long term solution for everyone else. Module 1 currently has a pass rate of around 50% for women and 80% for men, while Module 2 has a slightly higher pass rate for women. Nothing in 3DLD will make entry into motorcycling easier for women, who currently account for only 10% of all motorcycle tests taken – but significantly they have a higher percentage taking the current Restricted Licence than the Direct Access Scheme. Chances are that this figure will fall further, which given that women statistically are less likely to have an accident than men does not seem a step in the right direction. So fewer people who pose a lower risk, more people as perpetual learners and a whole raft of people who will own a useless unwanted moped, and not forgetting making it more expensive for younger people and encouraging older people to ride even bigger bikes. All in all a mighty testament to the common sense (or lack of) of our legislative institutions.

Please see below a table from the DSA with the new licences made simple(?):

Category and moped or motorcycle to be used on test                minimum age                        what’s required to gain access to category
AM - Two-wheel machine with:                                                              16                                                           CBT theory and practical test
• cubic capacity of 50cc or less
• maximum design speed not exceeding 45km/h (28mph)
A1 - Motorcycle without sidecar with:                                                   17                                                           CBT theory and practical test
• cubic capacity of at least 120cc and no more than 125cc
• power output not exceeding 11kW (14.6bhp)
• capable of a speed of at least 90km/h (55mph)
A2 - Motorcycle without sidecar with:                                                   19                                               (Progressive Access) must have held an A1 licence
• cubic capacity of at least 395cc                                                                                                                    for a minimum of two years: take either a practical
• engine power of at least 25kW (33bhp) not                                                                                                 or *training option, Or must hold a valid CBT and
exceeding 35kW (46.6bhp)                                                                                                                              theory test certificate and take practical test.
• power to weight ratio not exceeding 0.2kW/kg not                                                                                 
derived from a vehicle more than double its power
A - Motorcycle without a sidecar with:                                                  21                                               (Progressive Access) must have held an A2 licence
• cubic capacity of at least 595cc                                                                                                                    for a minimum of two years: take either a practical
• engine power of at least 40kW (53.6bhp)                                                                                                    test or *training option
A - As above                                                                                        24 (Direct Access)                             Hold a valid CBT and theory test certificate and practical test.
Motorcycle candidates must always have a valid theory test certificate before taking their first practical motorcycle test. Unless they take the progressive access route, they must have a valid theory test certificate before taking any further practical motorcycle tests.
A three-wheeled moped or motorcycle is only suitable for test if the distance measured between the centre of the area of contact with the road surface of the two wheels is less than 460mm (46cm). It’s likely that these vehicles won’t be suitable for test from 19 January 2013.
*The feasibility of the training option is still currently being looked into; a final decision is yet to be made.

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