The ongoing lockdown has changed our lives in innumerable ways. Some of them, like an inability to get a haircut, are felt by everyone. But there are other consequences which don’t quite receive as many headlines. Among these is a shortage of Compulsory Basic Training for those riding mopeds and motorcycles.
What is CBT?
If you’re learning to drive a car, then you’ll need to be accompanied by a competent driver whose job it is to supervise your progress. If you’re learning to drive a vehicle with no passenger seats, then you won’t have this luxury. To get to a standard that’s high enough for you to be deemed roadworthy, you’ll need to complete a compulsory basic training course. From there, you’ll be able to practice for your full driving licence.
This is a problem that many bodies in the industry, from motorcycle insurance providers like Carole Nash to public-sector leaders, have been urgently drawing attention to.
Who needs a CBT?
The rules around Compulsory Basic Training vary slightly according to the age of the rider, and the vehicle in question. Those aged sixteen or over are able to ride mopeds; those aged seventeen or older are able to ride a motorcycle of up to 125cc (or 11kw in the case of electric vehicles). Once the rider has attained their initial A2 licence they can move onto more powerful vehicles of up to 500cc, then after two years on the road they can apply for a full license. It’s a system that helps inexperienced drivers to learn the rules of the road in a way that’s gradual and safe.
What’s the problem?
A CBT certificate comes with an expiry date. It must be renewed after two years if the rider hasn’t earned a full driving licence by then. Of course, now that there are lockdown measures in place, these courses can’t be conducted and so many riders find themselves unable to ride. Where those riders are so-called ‘key workers’, this can become a significant problem — and one that could lead to hospitals and other essential facilities becoming short staffed.
Editor of Insidebikes at Carole Nash, and former editor of Motorcycle News, Marc Potter says:
‘Riding motorcycles or scooters is key to getting the country running again, especially for commuters and key workers when we’re being advised to not take public transport to get to work wherever possible. Motorcycles and scooters offer a viable transport solution for key workers trying to avoid public transport at this time, so the sooner the Government acts to allow key workers with expired CBTs to retake their training, the better’.
In late April, the Chief Executive of the DVSA, Gareth Llewellyn, penned a letter to colleagues in training centres. In it, he confirmed that training and testing will be provided only to those with an essential need at the time.
In the UK there are fifty ‘emergency testing centres’ which will remain open to provide this essential service. While there may still be some delay in getting the training done — since many of the existing instructors are in vulnerable categories — it should still be possible for key workers to get their CBT renewed, provided that they apply ahead of time.