24-01-2008 Motor Cycle Industry Challenges Ved Evasion Estimate

Issued 24th January 2008 

A claim this week that nearly 40 per cent of motorcyclists are evading the payment of vehicle excise duty (VED or road tax) has been slammed as a gross over-estimate of the true problem using deeply flawed methodology.

The claim was contained in a report on VED evasion by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, but the Motor Cycle Industry Association (MCIA) says that the methodology used to come up with the estimate simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny. 

"VED evasion is to be deplored, especially as it will often mean that a vehicle is without insurance or a valid MOT," said David Taylor, chief executive of the MCIA. "Along with many others, we have questioned and challenged the DfT's methods of estimating VED evasion by motorcyclists and submitted a detailed analysis to the Committee of Public Accounts. We are deeply disappointed that it seems to have been ignored in favour of alarming, inaccurate and sensational headlines." 

In particular, the MCIA points out that the methodology has remained unchanged for decades, even though traffic patterns - especially those of motorcycles - have changed dramatically.  

The DfT's estimates are based on roadside surveys which make the flawed assumption that motorcycle traffic patterns match those of general traffic. This almost certainly creates a bias in the samples. 

The estimate of motorcycle VED evasion assumes that any repeat sightings will be proportionate to the vehicle's total mileage, but there is no evidence to support this assumption, which was last tested on heavy goods vehicles nearly a quarter of a century ago.  

The MCIA's submission pointed out that it seems highly unlikely that personal motorcycle use bears much resemblance to patterns of commercial HGV use. 

The MCIA also says that the sample of motorcycles in the latest survey is very low at just 0.9 per cent of all vehicles in the survey. Yet the smaller numbers of motorcycles have generated the highest estimates of VED evasion with the poorest statistical confidence limits. 

David Taylor also highlights that: "The relative mileage methodology produces very wide ranges of statistical uncertainty. This is why we see extremely erratic estimates of motorcycle VED evasion levels which vary wildly from year to year. The rate at which motorcycle VED evasion is estimated to be rising is out of step and grossly out of scale with all other motorcycle activity indicators."  

Interestingly, the fact that the number of motorcycles recorded on the DVLA database has been rising seems at odds with a rapidly rising VED evasion estimate.  

"The number of evading motorcyclists observed in the latest survey was less than 1 per cent higher than the previous year, yet we are expected to believe that motorcycle VED evasion rose by 47 per cent from an already highly unlikely figure the previous year. Common sense suggests that the estimate of nearly 40 per cent is wildly inaccurate, or they would surely be very easy to catch," added Taylor

More than anything else, the House of Commons report was deeply critical of the DVLA and DfT for failing to tackle the problem of VED evasion. The MCIA, along with many other transport organisations, calls for better police enforcement on the road, not just to combat VED evasion, but also to tackle poor and dangerous driving and riding, along with the menace of defective vehicles. 


For more information, a copy of the MCIA's submission to the Committee of Public Accounts or photos please contact Simon Small at the MCI Press Office on 01622 812961 (S-Presso Ltd) mobile: 07860 438738, email or MCI director of public affairs Craig Carey-Clinch: 07979 757484 or 

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