Halfords today calls for changes in the driving test to combat antagonism between cyclists and motorists in a bid to increase road safety.
The UK’s largest retailer of cycling and motoring products suggests an amendment is made to the driving test by making cycle awareness a part of every theory test taken in the UK – as this week marks the 80th anniversary of the compulsory driving test which were first introduced in June 1935.
Today the bike retailer is calling for the new government to support its proposition to dedicate an entire section of the theory test to cycle awareness to ensure motorists and cyclists can both occupy Britain’s roads safely.
At present a would-be-drivers’ cycle awareness is quizzed via the driving theory test in both the hazard perception and multiple-choice parts of the test. And of course, if a driver approaches a cyclist during their practical driving test it will be covered again.
Emma Fox, Commercial Director at Halfords, said: “Halfords has a unique position as a cycling and motoring retailer that wishes to protect the best interests of everyone to improve Britain’s road safety.
“To celebrate the eightieth year of the compulsory driving test we are calling for the new government to create a section of the theory test dedicated to cycle awareness.
“Halfords feels a focus on cycle awareness from the outset would encourage all drivers to have a better understanding of the rules regarding cycling. This in turn would enable better enforcement of the Highway Code and would promote safety.”
This change is timely considering that prior to the general election, the Government had laid out a consultation that could lead to the biggest shake-up to the driving test in 20 years, aiming for the test to better reflect real-world driving habits and modern technology employed by motorists.
The consultation aimed to find the best ways to update skills for drivers in their practical test such as drivers being asked to prove to the examiner that they can listen to their sat-nav, or demonstrate they are able to turn on the car’s heated rear screen while driving.
The consultation in its present form will lead to approximately1,000 learner drivers at 20 testing centres across Britain take part in trials of a new practical exam in 2016. If popular, it’s expected the changes will become permanent subject to full public consultation.
As such Halfords is keen to ensure the consultation now also looks at how best to include cycling safety in the test.
To that end the retailer has today sent a letter to Alastair Peoples, Chief Executive of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), asking for greater cycle awareness to be covered in the consultation.
According to road safety awareness campaign THINK, part of the Department for Transport, the number of cyclists seriously injured has increased in recent years, faster than the increase in cyclists out on the roads.
Emma Fox, Commercial Director at Halfords, concluded: “We want to work with the DVSA to ensure the next generation of drivers understand cyclists and effect positive change in the relationship between cyclists and motorists.
“Our aim is to find common ground and bringing groups together encouraging road users to share responsibility for everyone’s safety.”