OCTOBER 1976 ISSUE
No less than 42 new Training Centres have been established this year by County Councils and London Boroughs with our support, and our pupil intake has increased by nearly 25%, which we would suggest proves (a) given the resources we can expand significantly and (b) we have not reached the end of the number of good volunteers who are ready and willing to help in training novice motor cyclists, but resources are of course getting harder to come-by.
There is however fortunately no doubt that the new rider is willing to pay much more than presently required of him, for the RAC/ACU Course. It is our view that the nation should take advantage of this willingness, in order to cut to the present level of subsidisation given to the two wheeler novice rider. This would create more usable money at Centres for such things as equipment, instructional aids and training machines.
The Motor Car Driving Schools, we are told, receive an average sum of £100 from each learner driver before he or she takes the official driving test and passes. This seems on the high side to us but has been stated as a fact several times. Nevertheless, even if it is £70 which would have been my guess, the motor cyclist at present cannot be contributing a reasonable share of the cost of his training. We now suggest the maximum course fee should be £20 and would like to see all Centres charging between £10 and £15 by the early part of 1977.
We are told that pupil motor cyclists are readily paying their £3 fee for the four hour "Two Wheel Teach-in", which STEP in liaison with Dealers are offering as a facility for novice machine buyers.
We would also like to see our 24 hour Course fitted into an 8 week period of time. 12 weeks, and even 10 weeks, does seem too long winded now for the hustle and bustle of modern times.
We also urge you to try to overlap your courses half way through. You will need a larger team of helpers to do this, but you will be offering a more adequate service to the Public if it can be arranged in this way.
New Definition for MOPEDS - Maximum design speed of 30 m.p.h.
It seems fairly certain that the new definition of a moped will receive the force of law by 1st August 1977. People of any age between their l6th and 17th birthdays will be allowed to ride motor bicycles, as before, but will still be restricted to mopeds of the new definition, and mopeds of the present definition provided these are registered and in use before 1st August 1977.
It is not easy to forecast how this change will affect the RAC/ACU Training Centres. Therefore if a point comes to anyone's mind, please jot it down and send it to us.
Increase in the number of Motor Cycles in use - 1975
The Department of the Environment has calculated that the total number of Motor Cycles in use increased by 11% in 1975 (118,000 machines), Mopeds and machines under 50cc capacity engines by 7% (37,000 machines), and machines over 50cc capacity engines by 15% (82,000 machines). The number of Cars rose by 1% (107,000 vehicles),
The total number of Motor Cycles, Scooters and Mopeds in use in Great Britain at the end of 1975 were as follows:- Not over 50cc, 546,000 machines; over 50cc, 615,000 machines; making a total of 1,160,000 machines. This total it still a long way below the Two Million or so machines on our roads a decade and a half ago. Nevertheless, the motorcyclists share the roads in Great Britain with nearly 16 Million other vehicles. This is where they are coming unstuck - too many collisions and other accidents are happening to allow a state of "peace of mind" to exist.
The Motor Cycle Accident Situation
I have no doubt in my mind that the biggest single factor, amongst a multitude of factors which bring about the high motor cycle accident rate, is the terrific accelerative performance of the motor cycle compared with all other vehicles sharing the roads with them. This creates an abnormal situation for the other users. It is this abnormal factor of the motor cycle usage which creates the largest difficulty for other users.
"Cyclists who drop from the sky", was an Evening News heading of an article the other day which dealt with the writer's difficulty in becoming aware soon enough of the fast accelerative approach of a motor cycle, (nothing to do with sheer speed this problem).
Various remedies for this situation will commend themselves, but probably the best is to accept the situation as it is, and ask for increased conspicuity to be practiced by riders and better positioning of their machines when approaching "blind spot" vehicles from behind, and when using their 'abnormal' accelerative ability, the use of their headlights should not be overlooked either.
Nevertheless, the motorcyclist, with the help of other road users, is reducing his accident rate, which is an encouragement to me, because I see it as a success for Road Safety and its training programmes. I hope you will also be encouraged, and discount some of the hysterical calls and headlines littering up the two wheeler scene these days, examples of some of the headlines make interesting reading. - "Safety Call from STEP Supremo", who is the chief of Cossack Concessionaires, says the Motor Cycle. "BMF attacked for 'Subversive' Motive", screams the Motor Cycle of 9th October - Outburst from Hertfordshire County Council - "Ban the Motor Cycle", says another journal - "More Deaths on Two Wheels", shouts the Evening Standard -"Nobody Loves Us" writes The Daily Telegraph referring to an article on Mopeds.
What is the matter with us all.
Driving Licence - Official Test
From 1st August, the Fee for a Driving Test appointment is £6.75. Perhaps this will bring my call for a higher course fee into perspective. The test takes half an hour or so, our course is based on 24 by 1 hour lessons. Inflation is taking its toll on both projects!
Motor Cycle Safety Helmet Regulations - Further Proposals
It is proposed that by 1st January 1977, it will become the law that all helmets be securely fastened by a strap which passes under the jaw of the rider, this is to counteract the chin cup danger when the strap passing through the chin cup is also the main fastening strap. It has been found that when this is the case, the helmet can be knocked off the riders head more easily should a mishap to the rider occur removing him from the 'bike'.
By the way, The Transport part of the Department of the Environment now has its own Secretary of State and is a separate Department. Its name is Department of Transport. The Government Road Safety Division is part of this new Department.
Graduate Badges - Changes in Supply System
With effect from 15th January 1977, Graduate badges will only be supplied to order and invoiced at the time, so please do not forget to order your requirements on the Test Application Form or by separate Order Form if this is the way you have to place orders.
Debit Balances standing in the Ledger as at 1st January 1977 will be invoiced, during January 1977.
The RAC/ACU Instructors and Examiner's Machine Badges: New Price
We have had to raise the price of Instructors and Examiners Machine Badges to cope. with inflation and a fresh stock ordered this year. The new price is £1.20 each, plus VAT, postage free.
Use of Headlamps by Day - in murky conditions - According to the Law
A restudy of this Law is recommended so that instructors can advise pupils how to behave correctly under it. The winter is coming, and murky conditions with it. At present vehicle drivers appear to have an abysmal lack of knowledge on what this Law requires of them in this respect.
A copy of our new Price List for 1977 comes to you with this News Letter.
1976 Year Bars and Bars and Requisition Form
Requisition Forms are sent out to Training organisers (only) with this News Letter. We can accept your orders at any time from now on but will process them later, towards the end of the year when the bars and badges are expected from the manufacturers.
Matters of General Interest
F. A. Lovegrove,
RAC/ACU Training Scheme
RECAPITULATION: Due to a problem at the printing stage, the Technical Supplement for July was distributed only to Training Organisers. The message under the heading "Proficiency Test Organisation" is so important that it is being repeated below. Prompt attendance and slick organisation is the essence of a successful day for the candidates as well as the staff.
I am also repeating the last paragraph of the supplement which is now a rather belated thank you to Examiners.
PHOFICIENCY TEST ORGANISATION: The problems facing centre organisers because of the number of trainees now ready for testing on any one occasion are largely to be solved by forethought and preparation. This I have discovered from the centres that responded to my appeal for details of how 30 or 40 candidates can be tested and not be late home for lunch or tea. Thank you to all those who sent details of their system.
You cannot expect to cope if you do not have the required number of examiners and this is a matter over which we have little control. It is, however, noticeable that it is easier to obtain volunteers to attend at centres where the organisation is good and time is not wasted.
Chaos starts if the examiners turn up late but again the centre can help itself by checking that the address of their site is adequate when entering it on the Proficiency Test Application Form. If it is on examiner's first visit to your centre, the information you have given is all that he has to find his way.
The starting time should not be 11.00 am if there is a large number of trainees. Four or five candidates an hour is the normal testing rate for one examiner. Examiners are in short supp]y, very often because everyone wants them in the same area on the same day. There are still some centres who do not have any of their instructors on the examiners' register. There are also many motorcyclists unable to spare the time for instructing but could be persuaded to perform examining duties. If you can contact these people please pass me their names and addresses.
On test day be ready to receive the examiners with everything prepared and the test equipment laid out. It saves much time if trainees are readily identifiable by numbered armbands or similar. Candidates should be advised beforehand of what will happen and disciplined to carry out instructions. The instructor in charge should equip himself with a simple duplicated schedule or which candidate names are against their numbers, the same names and numbers to appear on all the examiners marking cards. His schedule will have a column for each section of the test plus one for any centre information e.g. pass or fail. The schedule should be ticked off as each candidate takes each part of the test. The instructor in charge will need help from one or two of his colleagues to see that no examiner is ever left without a candidate to test. Those candidates who use the training machines need to be suitably spaced along the entry to see that delays do not occur.
When more than a basic panel of four examiners are in attendance it is often advantageous to concentrate the extra examiners on the road test and when finished they help out the other sections as necessary.
This is a review of the main points needing attention if a large number of trainees are to be tested in a minimum of time. I have seen some of the systems submitted in action and they do work but an important ingredient for success is a will on the part of the centre staff and the examiners to get the job done efficiently.
I have copies of the schedules used if anyone would like to see a sample but they are very simple and every system has to be tailored to the needs of the individual centre.
I hope that this will encourage everyone to speed up test day proceedings as much as possible without lowering the standard.
EXAMINERS: The increase in training is causing heavy pressure to be applied to examiners in some instances, If you have been the recipient of one of my special appeals for attendance on particularly busy week-ends please accept my sincere thanks for your co-operation. If you were pressed to attend and were subsequently told that you were not required, again my special thanks. With the voluntary system this cannot be avoided and I can only promise to keep it to a minimum.
The pressure is still on and is likely to be maintained throughout the summer making October, November and December a very worrisome time to contemplate. Please keep up the effort and encourage any other suitable motorcyclists you can to join the ranks.
DRIVING TEST FEE: The driving test fee has increased to £6.75. Please recognise the increased importance to your candidate of being certain that his training includes the requirements of the official driving test. Make the necessary contacts that will enable you to be sure that this objective is achieved. Next the Driving Examiners.
HOW FAR FROM THE KERB? At what distance from the kerb should we advise our trainees to ride is a question that gives rise to much debate and one that I am frequently required to answer. I would like to say "it all depends" but it is necessary to state a distance and that is 2ft to 3ft from the kerb. I can be sure that has caused the hackles to rise, which is understandable because the real answer is that it does all depend on the circumstances. Instructors must give trainees a clear instruction as I have done above. A good instructor will then await the time when the trainee complains that the advice is not always right and proceed to explain the relevance of road condition close to the kerb, street furniture erected close to the kerb, footpath width, road width, pedestrian and traffic density, type of road, type of machine he is riding and all the other items any combination of which help a rider to arrive at the correct distance for any given situation.
HELMETS: From the 1st January 1977 a new British Standard will be introduced for safety helmets and the number is BS 5561. The standards BS 2001 and BS 1869 will remain legal but will gradually drop out of use. The new standard BS 5561 may appear before 1st January because helmets are already being made to this standard.
It will not be legal to wear a helmet not of a standard approved for motor cycle riders.
MODELS: A series of useful models of the cut-away type are available from Irwin Desman Ltd., 294 Purley Way, Croydon, CR5 4QL. Prices are right and centres with permanent facilities for their display could do worse than apply for a catalogue of items relating to engine and gear box principles.
PITMAN BIKEBOOKS: Pitman Publishing Ltd., 55 Parker Street, London WC2B 5PB have commenced a new series of maintenance books for motor cycle owners called Pitman Bikebooks. Price is £1.25 each. The titles so far published cover Honda CB/CD175, CB250/550/560, Suzuki 50 and TS 125, and Triumph Twins. I am sure that this list will be enlarged soon.
The title I have read gives guidance on the type of tools to buy and their quality, how to use and keep tools in good nick, and then details the many maintenance tasks suitable for the owner with some ability, to attempt. A feature of the series is that each author has much experience of repairs to the models about which he is writing and so the advice is very much to the point and does not avoid the difficult bits as so often happens with these publications.
MITCON: The 1976 programme is halfway through and has not suffered quite as much as expected due to the economic situation. MITCON BATH was successful despite the fact that more delegates could have been accommodated. This is not an area of great demand and with the two nearest Counties organising their own event a week later, attendance was very good.
The party for MITCON RUGBY numbered 51 and this also went well. Bob Kedney was present to give his verdict on our efforts as tutors and I am grateful to him for this service.
MITCON CHORLEY is still to come and there are still some vacant places if you need them. Please be quick because I must pass the final figure to the conference centre in the next few days.
MITCON TWO is only a few weeks away and I have lots of promises but few have actually booked their "In Centre Activities" assessments. If more do not come in immediately I will have to consider postponement of this event to the Spring.
INSTRUCTOR TRAINING: Unfortunately, the promised reports on MITCON are still awaited from the printer but should not be long delayed now.
My suggestion last issue, that MITCON ONE should be undertaken by Counties has been taken up in several parts of the Country. In particular the Counties of Somerset and Avon have already conducted their first weekend. I was able to help with this and I am convinced that this development is on right lines. I would question the wisdom of adopting a straight copy of MITCON with its disadvantages as well as its good points but, as the organisers said at the time, a start has been made, lessons learnt, and the next one can only be that much better. Top marks to Somerset and Avon Counties.
This particular weekend was a joint operation in more ways than one. STEP were also present to conduct a course for teachers operating their schools scheme.
We both conducted our training separately and I think it a pity that the opportunity presented to integrate the groups was not fully realised. Our needs are complementary in that we need teaching techniques which they have in abundance and they are in need of practical motor cycling knowledge, in the main. Before I am taken to task on that statement I do realise that some teachers are also practicing motor cyclists and motor cyclist can also be trained teachers.
S.P. Turner, Chief Instructor
RAC/ACU Training Scheme.