New EU plans for Super MOT and roadside checks for bikes?

Fresh EU plans announced yesterday could mean super-MoT, roadside spot checks for bikes and  further restrictions on bike modification.

The European Commission has just launched an internet consultation on Periodic Technical Inspections (PTI) for motor vehicles and their trailers.

The consultation envisages harsh and costly new measures that go far beyond the current MoT system familiar to riders across the UK, including:

  • road-side spot-checks specifically for motorcycles
  • inspection of after-sale upgrades, replacement parts and modifications
  • EU member states to swap information about individual vehicles
  • additional inspections whenever the vehicle changes hands
  • increased test fees (up to 30% extra)
  • all EU countries to adopt the harshest test conditions currently found in any member state.

Nich Brown, General Secretary of MAG(UK), said “the scope of this consultation confirms that the EU is contemplating a draconian and expensive burden on riders. All riders need to act now to challenge the potential excesses of yet another pan-European system that fails to meet the needs of individual nations.”

The Commission say they are inviting comment from citizens as well as organisations and public authorities from all EU member states. But whilst the consultation questionnaire allows for individuals and organisations to vote for more sensible options, the only way to respond appears to be via an online form that has hardly been designed to let the rider’s voice be clearly heard. For example, the consultation question asking what category of vehicle you usually drive gives no option to say motorcycle – only ‘none of the above’.

The usual suspicions about the questionnaire design abound, for example riders and drivers are asked if they have been involved in a road accident or vehicle breakdown, but not whether any accident or breakdown was caused by a vehicle defect that might be detected in the super-MoT or by a roadside spot-check.

The EU and national Governments are said to be “at one in wishing to ensure that the EU Single Market works as efficiently as possible and that the administrative burden is reduced, in the interests of citizens.” The irony of this statement is that were the most extreme of the options to be adopted almost every EU citizen with a vehicle would face a far greater burden than they do now.

The other main policy objectives are reducing the number and severity of road accidents and to reduce emissions from road vehicles. Official statistics indicate that just 1% of motorcycle crashes in Great Britain involve a vehicle defect, whilst pan-European research suggests similarly low figures elsewhere, even in countries that have no periodic inspection.

This suggests there may be relatively little benefit from the current UK system based on annual MoT testing and certainly does not provide a strong argument for tightening MoT controls or introducing road side checks.

The European Union is asking riders and others to vote on what should be done:

Option 1: No change.

Option 2: Encourage agreements and exchange of information between Member States, but no new legislation.

Option 3: Mutual recognition of national tests, an information campaign in countries where the test quality is thought to be low and exchange of best practices among countries

NB: All of the above options suggest the UK could keep its MoT system more-or-less as we know it.

Option 4: Impose through EU legislation a harmonised system of PTI based on either a) the ‘Most Rigorous’, b) the ‘Medium Quality’ or c) the ‘Least Rigorous’ of the current national tests.

MAG supports the pan-European campaign for individual countries to continue to determine their own national requirements for vehicle testing.  The campaign by dozens of riders groups across the EU is being coordinated by the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations

The Motorcycle Action Group says that the best way to achieve this, and to defend against moves toward harmonisation around the most draconian form of testing, is for riders and their representative groups to support Option 1.

The consultation runs for less than one month, until 24th September 2010, via the EU official website