The End of RAC/ACU

This must rank as one of the saddest days for the Leicester Phoenix Motorcycle Training Scheme and for many others. I bet everyone who received this letter still has it kept safely along with that telegram from the Queen.



It is with extreme regret that I must notify you of a decision which has been made very reluctantly to terminate the operations of the RAC/ACU National Training Scheme.

Having pioneered the national development of motor cycle training as long ago as 1947 through the magnificent efforts of so many enthusiastic unpaid volunteers it is disappointing that such an excellent road safety activity cannot be continued on this basis.

The RAC will, however, wish to provide such further help as may be possible to any local authorities or other bodies which may arrange to continue the activities at existing RAC/ACU Training Centres. Moreover, the necessary arrangements will be made by the RAC/ACU National Training Scheme headquarters to assist training centres to fulfil commitments which have already been made - in particular, to complete the training courses for which learner riders have already enrolled.

I am sure that you would wish me to explain briefly the reasons for our decision although it has been repeatedly pointed out in recent months that the future of the training scheme would be in jeopardy unless sufficient resources could be made available to cope with the new requirements relating to the introduction of the two-part official test. As soon as adequate information was available we examined thoroughly all the implications of incorporating the Part One Test in the RAC/ACU Proficiency Test. We recognised that this would be essential to attract trainees in an inevitably competitive training market. It became evident that very large expenditure would have to be incurred in order to organise the training, appointment and supervision of the large number of authorised examiners which would be needed.

Additional financial assistance was offered by the Government for such purposes but for one year only. The Motor Cycle Association also agreed recently to investigate the possibility of providing further help when it was known that the RAC/ACU National Training Scheme could not be continued otherwise. Nevertheless, our assessment of the total costs to be incurred has revealed that - even with such support - the RAC would have to invest much larger resources than in previous years. The Government's intentions have been firmly declared that motor cycle training must be made self-financing and local authorities are also being influenced to adopt the same policy for their contributions to motor cycle training in their areas.

The fees for training will necessarily rise substantially and there could be no guarantee that the RAC would be able to arrange to recover its costs from the training fees, for instance by agency arrangements with local authorities. Therefore, investment of larger sums would be an unjustifiable risk to be taken with a significant part of the subscription income from RAC members since motor cycle training is a service benefitting only a very small proportion of the membership.

In earlier years, the RAC has welcomed the opportunities for collaboration with Government and local authorities in promoting training with subsidies which have been regarded as justifiable use of public resources in order to reduce accident and casualty risks, to a large extent as a social service.

The Government's total financial aid has recently topped the RAC's direct financial contribution - which is not far short of £500,000 since 1947. In addition, our activities have also incurred substantial uncosted involvement of RAC personnel.

Now that official decisions have been taken that training should in future be organised on a commercial or semi-commercial basis, the time has regrettably come for the RAC to cease to be directly involved in such activities. We hope that the great success which has been achieved by you and your colleagues and their predecessors at RAC/ACU Training Centres -where about 250,000 new riders have obtained competent tuition - will be followed by adequate developments under the new system to ensure that many motor cyclists will continue to learn to ride safely and courteously in the years ahead.

As you will know, we have always contended that the standards of competence achieved by RAC/ACU training courses are higher than required to pass the Department of Transport's official road test. We have had to accept for many years that official recognition of the RAC/ACU Proficiency Test would not be authorised. A final effort was made, however, to persuade the Government to remove the need for the great expenditure relating to part-one testing - by exempting trainees who have passed the RAC/ACU Proficiency Test from the part-one off-the-road test, since learners who are proficient to ride on the roads must be far more competent than those who have satisfied examiners only that they can control their machines during an off-the-road riding test.

Nevertheless, we were informed that there could be no official relaxation of the requirements in accordance with the Government's declared plans, even though we pointed out that this would be a means of avoiding the loss to the community of the immensely valuable services of the many officials providing the instruction at RAC/ACU Training Centres estimated to be worth about £4 million per annum.

I hope this information will reassure you that every possible avenue has been explored in order to endeavour to avoid the need for abandonment of the Training Scheme.

In conclusion, all at the RAC and the ACU wish to pay tribute to everyone who has done so much to promote motor cycling safety in this way and also to express our great appreciation of the assistance which we have received from many sources - including the Government, local authorities, motor cycle manufacturers and traders as well as organisations such as the Company of Veteran Motorists and Queen's Silver Jubilee Trust which have donated funds for the purchase of training machines in recent years.

Yours sincerely,

Jeffrey Rose
Royal Automobile Club

I bet that still brings a lump to your throat. Now reread Stan Turner's April 1982 Newsletter.

Jeffrey Rose