Most motorcyclists take some form of initial training to get their A licence, but for a lot of riders this is not enough. They want to keep learning and follow advanced rider training courses. But how do you know which training provider to pick?
ACEM, the European association of motorcycle manufacturers, together with the German Road Safety Council DVR, launched a new European Training Quality Label that could help motorcyclists chose the right advanced training.
To find out more about the quality label, FEMA interviewed Dr. Veneta Vassileva, safety coordinator for ACEM. We also talked to Arjan Everink from Dutch motorcyclists’ organisation KNMV (the first to receive the certification) and to Jesper Christensen from FEMA’s member organization SMC Sweden, a large provider of advanced rider training.
Why is ACEM involved in the European Training Quality Label? Veneta: “The motorcycle industry considers that powered two wheelers safety improvements could be realized only by truly applying an integrated approach encompassing vehicle technology, human factor and infrastructure. Even the most sophisticated motorcycle, equipped with the most advanced technologies available in the market, will not bring substaintial safety benefits if the rider does not share the road with other road users in a responsible and safe manner. Two years ago the industry launched a renewed motorcycle safety strategy calling for an inclusive approach towards motorcycling and inviting authorities to integrate powered two wheelers in their national safety and mobility plans in order to benefit from all advantages offered by powered two wheelers to the society. The industry strategy reflecting upon the integrated approach has three main pillars: vehicle technology, country tailored policies and rider training. Under the umbrella of training pillar ACEM has joined forces with the German Road Safety Council (DVR) to launch the European Training Quality Label for post-licence training.”
Why is post-licence training important to ACEM? Veneta: “Available studies have consistently showed that human error is the most frequent accident causation factor. Obviously the efforts should be orientated towards cultivating safety culture for all road users including powered two wheeler riders. Training could play a significant role in this process. Therefore the industry has always been in a favour of life-long training incorporating initial rider training, training of riders upgrading to more powerful bikes, training of holders of B licence using the equivalence options and last but not least post-licence voluntary training. Post-licence training programmes focusing on safety, hazard perception and risk awareness could help especially ‘reborn’ riders (i.e. people who stopped using a powered two wheeler for a prolonged period of time) to come back to motorcycling safely.”
What is the advantage to the training supplier to have the European Training Quality Label? Veneta: “I think it is important to stress that that the European Training Quality Label is awarded to a specific programme, not to the institution or the training school that delivers it. A training provider offering the same training programme in different locations should only apply once. On the other hand, training providers offering the same programme could apply together and share the costs for the application procedure. Training programmes awarded the European Training Quality Label gain high visibility at European and national level. The motorcycle industry and the German Road Safety Council supported by users’ organisations like FIM and FIA, use their communication channels to promote the European Training Quality Label in Brussels and across Europe. We have engaged some dialogue with Insurance Europe to seek their collaboration to encourage riding schools across Europe to embrace further this European initiative. In addition, awarded programmes could be supported at national level by the industry in terms of general cooperation agreement, availability of training with newly purchased vehicle, just to mention a few. To sum up, awarded programmes are more attractive for riders which represent new business opportunity for riding schools.”
How are the training schools tested when they apply for the European Training Quality Label and what specifically are the inspectors looking for? Veneta: “The European Training Quality Label is open to any organisation based in Europe willing to submit their training programmes for evaluation (riding schools, manufacturers, public bodies). There is a set of stringent criteria in four main categories: content of the training programme, methodology, qualification of trainers and quality assurance. DVR experts make the first assessment (by documents provided in English or German) and if the result is positive they pay a visit to the training school and evaluate the programme on site. To get the European Training Quality Label the programme should obtain for each category at least 40 percent or in total 60 percent is required.”
What are the costs for the training supplier to obtain the European Training Quality Label? Veneta: “The fee for the initial application including the inspection of the programme on site is €6,000 and should be borne by the applicant. The fee covers the expenses related to the work of independent experts working for the German Road Safety Council, which is a non-profit organization. Even more, the industry has decided to support financially the early birds by covering 50 percent of the application fee for the first five candidates.”
Once a training school has the label, how often is the quality checked? Veneta: “The European Training Quality Label is granted for a period of four years and could be renewed. What is more important to guarantee that the high quality is maintained, is that there is a system of annual monitoring, meaning that DVR experts make evaluation checks on an annual basis.”
Are training schools that do not have the European Training Quality Label bad schools? Veneta: “The short aswer is no, but let me elaborate on this. The European Training Quality Label was launched in September 2016 and we are in the beginning of the implementation. It would be irresponsible to state that all the programmes that have not been awarded are ‘bad’ programmes. Many of them are probably very good. On the other hand, motorcycle riders can be sure that the programmes that have received the label are actually excellent post-license training schemes.”
What does the European Training Quality Label mean to riders? Veneta: “Nowadays there are hundreds of post-licence training schemmes available in Europe, but unfortunately the quality is really heterogenous and it is not an easy for riders to make an informed decison. The European Training Quality Label guarantees that the training riders will receive is of high quality and that safety is the key component of the training programme. We do hope that this European initiative will encourage riders to follow post-licence training and become safer and more responsible road users.”
Which are the first awarded programmes? Veneta: “On 7th September 2016 there was an official ceremony at the ACEM Conference for the first labelled programme ‘Early perception risk’ offered by KNMV, a Dutch motorcyclists association. Now we have also 18 German training programmes holders of the European Training Quality Label and some more are on the pipeline, like the French Training Association AFDM, the Swedish motorcyclists’ organization SMC and the Austrian Automobile Club ÖAMTC. As you can see, this initiative is gaining momentum and we will continue to work in this area hopefully with the support of other stakeholders. I would like to seize this opportunity provided by FEMA to invite training providers from across Europe to apply for the European Training Quality Label and to help us to make it a success story.”
At ACEM’s annual conference in Brussels, in September 2016, Dutch motorcyclists’ organization KNMV was the first organization to receive the new ACEM/DVR European Training Quality Label. We talked to KNMV’s head of training, Arjan Everink. Arjan: “We are very proud to be the first to receive the quality label. It was given to us by an independent institute that knows training. Consumers often – even though they know quality matters – have a tendency to mainly look at the price when they’re considering advanced rider training. And I can’t really blame them, because on what else can you base your choice? So in our view the label is mainly meant as a way to explain to consumers that there is a vision behind our risk awareness training and that there is a guarantee of quality.”
In your opinion, does the motorcycle industry pay enough attention to rider training? Arjan: “What we see, at least in the Netherlands, is that motorcycle importers unfortunately focus mainly on sales through commercial actions. The quality label on the other hand is an initiative by the motorcycle industry to stimulate sales by making motorcycling safer. Maybe the motorcycle industry should really embrace the idea of giving free training courses to buyers of a new – or even second-hand – bike.”
Motorcyclists’ organization SMC Sweden is one of the FEMA members that offer advanced rider training. We asked SMC’s general secretary Jesper Christensen how he feels about the ACEM/DVR European Training Quality Label. Jesper: “SMC likes the label a lot. Rider training today is conducted by various enthusiastic motorcycle riders. Some schools, trainers or enthusiasts are giving the training they think is just what riders need. Naturally this results in a difference in content, quality and potentially even in safety. Having a certification process under a common label will show riders, clubs, motorcycle organizations, manufacturers and authorities that this is a quality training.”
Would SMC – as a large provider of post-licence training – be interested in obtaining the European Training Quality Label and if so, why? Jesper: “ACEM and FIM had a conversation about creating a label, but FIM was not ready, so they now support the ACEM/DVR label. SMC has been in the middle of the process. With 250 schools and 800 trained instructors, SMC is a major player in modern advanced rider training in Sweden. For us the quality seal from the industry would be a major benefit, which will even give strength to our motorcycle advocacy work towards authorities. It is a natural combination that industry and users share a similar view of how a motorcycle should be ridden. SMC started its certification work in June 2016.”
How would obtaining the European Training Quality Label impact the SMC training system? Jesper: “We would use this label to overhaul our current range of training curriculums, which we would have done anyhow. Our internal process – making 800 instructors agree – is becoming much easier, due to the label. We had our first presentation about the Quality Label last weekend internally and the SMC organisation is very positive.” Jesper continues: “SMC strongly believes in advanced rider training, which we have delivered for more than 40 years. The Swedish Insurance Industry stated the best accident prevention for motorcycle accidents is the training carried out by SMC schools. A strong commitment from the insurance industry with increased accident coverage is a clear signal of the valuation of the SMC training’s impact and quality. Even the Swedish Transport Administration, the creator of Vision Zero, supported SMC’s advanced rider training financially with 7 million Swedish Kronor (over 710,000 Euro) over the last 10 years.”
In September 2016, at ACEM’s annual conference in Brussels, SMC offered to give a free training course to buyers of a new bike in Sweden. How has your plan been received by the motorcycle industry in Sweden? Jesper: “SMC has offered all motorcycle manufacturers represented on the Swedish market, a unique and until now unseen generous offer, giving a free SMC training with each new bike sold in 2017 in Sweden. The value of SMC’s offer can be as high as one million Euro if all customers use the offer, equalling 100.000 hours of motorcycle road safety work! Last October the Swedish Industry Association responded to our offer by email, asking SMC to answer questions at an industry board meeting at the end of January 2017. SMC has therefore noted that manufacturers until now are not very positive about our offer of free training for their customers, and this will naturally be reason for SMC to reconsider our offer.”
About ACEM – The European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM), is the professional body representing the interests of the L-category vehicle industry in Europe (i.e. mopeds, motorcycles, tricycles, quadricycles). ACEM members include 17 manufacturing companies as well as 17 national associations based in 14 European countries.
About DVR – The German Road Safety Council (DVR) was founded in 1969. It coordinates a wide range of activities for its 200 members and develops road safety programmes. Among the key issues that the DVR deals with are traffic engineering, traffic law, awareness-raising and traffic education.