Motorbike at night

France u-turns on technical inspections for motorcycles

  • September 4, 2021

The French government’s law to introduce periodic technical inspections for motorcycles from 2022 was announced and then abruptly withdrawn last month, following pressure from motorcycle owners’ groups.

An EU law on roadworthiness, agreed back in 2013, gave Member States an exceptionally long lead time of nine years to put in place regular technical tests for motorcycles, with a deadline for 1 January 2022.  At the time, ETSC was critical of the long delay and the decision to exclude small motorcycles (with engines smaller than 125 cc).  ETSC also criticised language inserted into the law during the legislative process that meant Member States could put in place unspecified ‘effective alternative road safety measures’ instead.

In fact, most EU Member States already carry out technical inspections on motorcycles.  Those that took ‘alternative measures’ to enhance motorcycle road safety before 20 May 2017, and informed the European Commission, were just three in number: Ireland, Finland and the Netherlands.  The remaining countries without such tests, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Malta and Portugal did not and, according to the 2013 law, must therefore implement periodic technical inspections for larger motorcycles from 1 January 2022.

The French government has said it plans to belatedly introduce ‘alternative measures’ – but it is not clear if this option is legal at this point, or what measures France plans to introduce within just a few months.

The European Commission is in the process of reviewing the 2013 EU law, with a proposal expected in 2023.  Earlier this year the European Parliament called for periodic technical inspections to be required for all motorcycles, with extra checks for high-mileage vehicles such as those used for food deliveries.

Ellen Townsend, Policy Director of ETSC said: “Motorcyclists account for 15% of all road deaths in the EU.  The condition of the vehicle can influence the consequences and the severity of crashes, so periodic technical inspections for these vehicles are long overdue.  We are very disappointed to see France take this backwards step, despite having had eight years to prepare for the changes.  It’s a bad precedent.  We urge the European Union to make periodic technical inspections mandatory for all motorcycles in the next revision of the legislation. “