3rd European Driving Licence Directive

New Motorcycle Licencing Laws

The 3rd European Driving Licence Directive

By Mike Forrester, motorcycle.co.uk
and Nigel Osborne Channel Rider Training

 _Article written 2007. This passed into law already_

This Directive had been bounced around a bit because the Council of Ministers 'could not reach agreement'. On 27th March 2006, it was adopted as a 'second reading deal'. It was to be adopted without further changes.
We have received some waffle about 'an important step in combatting fraud' (Eh !) 'intended to increase motorcycle safety' (Yeah, yeah) 'introduce a licence for mopeds' (Ah, that's what happened, the French pushed it through because they have a problem with kids on mopeds).
So, a 'Common Position' had been agreed, and it passed to the European Parliament late summer 2006 to be voted on. It is known that a number of UK MPs/MEPs were unhappy with the motorcycle licensing parts of the Directive.
In an ideal world, the entire motorcycling licence part can be removed (this was MAG(UK)'s position). At the very least, as with any Directive, there is some flexibility in how Member States can implement it in their own Laws, so continuing to voice our concerns may reduce the impact on us in the UK.
Note - Jan 07, the 3DLD was passed. 3rd Driving Licence Directive Passed

The 2nd and 3rd European Driving Licence Directives will directly affect all of us:

  • If you are about to get a Motorcycle Licence (any level) it is going to get harder.
  • If you already have a licence, you need to know what is happening to new riders.
  • If you are a Trainer - we feel for you.


  • The European Commission has committees.
  • They issue 'Directives'
  • 'Directives' must be implemented in the law of every member state. That is a requirement of being a 'Member State', you implement their Directives.

So, a 'European Directive' is not some meaningless irrelevant thing - it is what we will get as law.

The 2nd European Driving Licence Directive is done and dusted. It will pass into UK law in 2008.

The 3rd European Driving Licence Directive is due to pass into UK Law 2011.


The 2nd European Driving Licence Directive

This is the one is about the more difficult off-road manouvres test. 2nd DLD Article here.

The 3rd European Driving Licence Directive

The various member counties have all put in their two pennyworth and the Commision has designed a camel that in some way meets the different views of, say, the Swedes (ban all bikes) to the UK (let the second directive stand, that's a big enough headache already). The compromises have been settled and it went to the European Parliament late summer 2006 for a final rewording. Each member state will then have untill 2011 to implement into "local" law.

The likely scenario for the UK will be :

  • Age 16 CBT Provisional Moped, Theory and hazard perception test, Off road manouvres test, on road test. Full P licence.
  • Age 17 CBT Provisional A1 motorcycle, Theory & hazard test. Off road test, on road test using 125cc bike. Full A1 licence. Restricted to 125cc 14 BHP for 2 years.
  • Age 19 CBT Provisional A2 motorcycle, Theory & hazard test. Off road test, on road test using 33 BHP bike greater than 500cc. Full A2 licence. Restricted to 47 BHP for 2 years.
  • Age 21 CBT Provisional A motorcycle, Theory & hazard test. Off road test, on road test using 47 BHP bike greater than 600cc. Full A licence.
  • Unrestricted Direct Access will remain but at age 24 years.

It sounds complicated.... It is complicated.... Put more simply, suppose you are 17 years old and you want a bike licence.

  • There's 3 steps, at 17, 19, 21 years old.
  • Each step involves theory, off-road, and on-road tests.
  • Each step must be taken on a bigger bike than you are currently allowed to ride, and practiced for under Instructor supervision.

A wicked but subtle change (buried in the small print) is the proposed minimum test vehicles. 500cc bikes don't exist (they're 496 or 498). We suspect simple ignorance is the reason why every "learner bike" in existence will be useless from 2011 at huge expense to the public / training industry.

A rather discriminatory effect is that the existing A2 route for learners is abolished. There will be no way for a smaller or disadvantaged person to get a full licence anymore. (2 years experience on a 33bhp to then upgrade utomatically). The disadvantaged will have to cope with 650cc (?) on test, like it or lump it. For even a new A2 it will be a 550cc (?) bike which will be rather big and heavy for small people in the new off road test.

It'll all get very expensive and difficult. It's forecast that the ultimate reduction in the number of new riders going through the new system will be as much as 60%. Yes, less than half as many as at present. Add the cost to Training Centres of dealing with the 2nd directive in 2008, only to have to re-equip for 2011 and less than half as many customers it's doubtfull that there will be many bike shops or training schools surviving anyway.

What can we do?

Contact your MP / MEP.  Its too late to change the Eurpoean Directive, but there is some flexibility in how each Member State implements it.

We really like WriteToThem - enter your postcode; type into a form; sends it online for you; .... Should find you your MP and MEP (you will find you have more than one covering your area).

Do it.

If you prefer to use snail mail - and it can have more impact than online forms.... You know how to cut-and-paste.....
Use this form letter as your starting point. But please change it. Multiple copies of exactly the same letter don't have such a big impact. If you re-write in your own words, they take much more notice. It means they actually have to read it, understand what you are asking, and reply sensibly!

Suggested Form letter - edit as you like.....
Your Name
Your Address

House of Commons,


European Parliament,
Bat Altiero Spinelli,
60 rue Wiertz B-1047

or their UK address.

Dear .......,

Re: Draft Third EC Driving Licence Directive

I wish to bring to your attention my concerns over the draft Third EC Driving Licence Directive which, in its existing form, will adversely affect the future of motorcycling. I ask for your support in influencing its progress through The Council of Ministers in December.

The Directive is intended to improve road safety by introducing greater consistency to driver licensing, addressing fraud and keep unsafe drivers off the road. It also includes extensive proposals relating to motorcycling which, although intended to improve safety, have been poorly thought out, ignore motorcycle safety research like the Motorcycle Accident In-Depth Study (MAIDS) and are not likely to be effective. I support measures to improve road safety, particularly for motorcycles, but can see no benefit from such ill-conceived proposals. The motorcycling measures include:

  • The introduction of three categories of motorcycle A1 (<125cc/11kW) A2 (<35 kW) A (>35 kW)
  • Access to category A1 from age 16 (17 in the UK ) and minimum ages to A2 and A subject to rigid two-year intervals.
  • A requirement for testing or training to progress from each category.
  • Direct Access to category A from age 24

The existing measures under the Second EC Driving Licence Directive, while criticised by riders and the enforcement community for their complexity, at least allow progress from category A1 via two years experience on an up to 25 kW motorcycle to category A and offers Direct Access at age 21. If there are any safety issues they are related to Direct Access by riders in their 30s and older which is already to be reviewed under The Government's Motorcycling Strategy.

The 3rd EC Driving Licence Directive's proposals will produce an even more complex motorcycle licensing process that will be neither understandable nor enforceable and will make motorcycling less accessible with no safety benefit. This flies in the face of The UK Government's Motorcycling Strategy which seeks to mainstream motorcycling for transport and leisure while making positive recommendations to improve safety without compromising its accessibility. It also runs counter to the EC's stated intent to introduce legislation only where there is a clear and demonstrable benefit in doing so.

In view of this, the UK 's motorcycling community - including the British Motorcyclists Federation, the Motorcycle Action Group UK, and the wider Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations - considers that the motorcycling proposals should be deleted from the 3rd EC Driving Licence Directive and revisited in not less than three years time.

By then interventions already in progress will have taken effect and more research can be taken into account to inform a more meaningful directive.

The UK 's motorcycling community has responded to a national consultation and met with representatives of the Driving Standards Agency and the Department for Transport which sits on the Council of Ministers. The DfT representatives claim that there is no room to manoeuvre over motorcycling issues with no support from other national governments. We disagree and consider that the motorcycling issues have been subsumed by other aspects of the directive for which they have shown greater enthusiasm.

May I ask you to use your influence to persuade the UK Minister and DfT representatives to call for the motorcycling provisions to be deleted from the 3rd EC Driving Licence Directive so that they may be properly considered at a more appropriate time?

I await your comments with interest.
Yours faithfully,
Your Signature


PS There are also MSPs - Members of the Scottish Parliament.

Write to yours if you wish, and if you know they are sympathetic to bikers - but they have less influence on EC directives.

Look up who it is here

Write to them at:
......... MSP
The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh EH99 1SP

PPS There's also Welsh and London Assemblies.

If you have regular contact with your representative there, it might be worth having a word, but they have even less effect at EU level.



Article written by and Copyright © 2009 Mike Forrester, motorcycle.co.uk
and Nigel Osborne Channel Rider Training.
Additional thanks to the BMF, for allowing us to adapt their Form Letter.
Reproduce or link to this page in any way you like, as long as this copyright notice is retained.