The Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) was launched in 2008
The Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) was launched by the DSA (now the DVSA) in 2008. ERS is intended to enhance road safety and riding skills for newly qualified riders, those returning to riding after a long period away, plus riders moving up to larger capacity/more powerful machines.
Unlike Module One, Module Two and certain advanced riding courses, ERS does not involve a formal test. Instead, candidates are assessed in the various key skills that are required to remain as safe as possible whilst riding a motorcycle.
Prior to the Enhanced Rider Scheme, there was an obvious void between the basic learner test syllabus and advanced levels of motorcycle instruction. Whilst many riders were motivated to pursue further training, in too many instances, just the word ‘advanced’ was (and still is) a barrier. Too many riders wrongly believe that passing their ‘basic’ motorcycle test is enough, with a common mindset being – ‘I can ride safely and I’ve passed my test to prove it’.
The most vulnerable motorcyclists
More accurately, these newly qualified riders are barely qualified to ride and are amongst the most vulnerable of motorcyclists, with one in five likely to be involved in a road traffic accident within two years of passing their test.
Prior to ERS, there was already a similar scheme for car drivers called Pass Plus. This also targeted a post-test skills gap – proving both popular and effective for significant numbers of new drivers and insurance companies. Pass Plus was (and still is) associated with more responsible novice drivers and is known to be effective at improving skills and road safety awareness.
ERS was instigated by the Department for Transport, who tasked the DSA (DVSA) to produce a structured motorcycle specific scheme, mirroring the objectives and ethos of Pass Plus.
The aim was to help improve rider safety for new and returning bikers alike, offering much needed further motorcycle training, without the pressure of being called ‘advanced’ training. The expected outcome being a reduction in serious or fatal road traffic collisions (RTC’s).
An excellent rider enhancement scheme
A new voluntary ‘Register of Post-test Motorcycle Trainers’ (RPMT) was launched. RPMT members were required to participate in a qualification process, after which they were authorised to train and certify ERS candidates.
Initially, there was good ERS publicity and motorcycle examiners were proactive giving out ERS literature to successful test candidates, plus leaflets explaining the benefits of ERS were distributed directly by motorcycle training schools, along with support from bike dealerships, workshops, and road safety organisations such as the Safer Roads Partnership. ERS was a hot topic in the motorcycle press and the major motorcycle insurance companies offered reduced premiums for ERS certified riders.
Despite ERS being an excellent rider enhancement scheme, initial industry enthusiasm sadly faltered. One possible reason being that certified trainers were required to take further assessments/tests to ‘re-qualify’. In addition, there was an annual subscription to remain on the register and other budget considerations for both training schools and the DSA (DVSA).
ERS - the future?
Following the launch of ERS, there appeared to be insufficient ongoing support and marketing to ensure long-term success. Complete responsibility for ERS promotion appeared to reside with Approved Training Bodies (ATB’s) and individual trainers.
Many had success by creatively promoting ERS through local bike shops, riding groups, bike meets etc, but too many ATB’s either removed themselves from the register or simply did not renew their RPMT subscription – perhaps because at a business level, costs appeared to outweigh the benefits.
Whilst, there has been a long period of deliberation with ERS – both from the DVSA and the motorcycle training sector in general, many training instructors still see the Enhanced Rider Scheme as an important missing element of the current ATB portfolio of motorcycle training courses. If embraced and promoted, ERS can improve the industry and have a significant positive impact on rider safety.
About the author
Paul Barrett was one of the first motorcycle instructors to join the Register of Post-test Motorcycle Trainers (RPMT), a position still held for delivery and certification of the Enhanced Rider Scheme. Paul is a strong supporter of ERS and advocate for it’s essential place within motorcycle training and rider safety.
Paul ran his own successful motorcycle training school for many years and is now based in the West Midlands. Paul’s favourite steed is his trusty Honda Super-Blackbird. [more]