When a standard is not inclusive is it discriminatory?
When standards are set, they are usually set with various margins and factors in mind to appeal to a wide range of people to be able to achieve said standard or benchmark. Whether that be how many credits you might need to achieve a qualification, how many clinical hours you need before you can qualify, or how many minors you're allowed on a driving test and more. Can you think of any other standards or benchmarks that you're aware of and if so, how inclusive are they?
This brings me to what I want to talk about today. I’ve become aware of the motorcycle testing to get your full motorcycle license of late and the standard set is not inclusive of mental health issues such as, but by no means limited to, anxiety disorders.
The testing and training require several stages, the first is CBT (compulsory basic training) which has various stages from motorcycle familiarisation to off-road manoeuvres, to theory, to on-road training and more. It is usually a day but can be taken over two days.
This is everything you need to ride a 125cc from complete beginner to competent rider. The next stage is a theory test and hazard perception taken at a test centre much like when you get your provisional license for a car. This involves 50 multiple-choice questions on a computer, and after passing this and getting insurance you are now ready to be on the road legally.
You get two years before you must take your full license to be able to ride any cc motorcycle or redo the CBT to continue riding a 125cc. A 125cc is not powerful enough to keep up road speed or to maintain speed on a motorway so these are a few reasons why one might want their full license.
The next two stages are split called a Mod 1 (off-road manoeuvres) and a Mod 2 road test. After training for Mod 1 at a training school you will then go to a test centre to complete a test with a DVSA examiner. Once completing this you can then do the Mod 2 road test and be followed on the road by a DVSA examiner.
The problem starts when you have passed the CBT, the theory, built up your road craft and experience and can otherwise ride. You complete your Mod 1 training, but when you are at the DVSA test centre your mental health is triggered and you cannot pass the Mod 1 test.
This then blocks you from getting your full motorcycle license because you cannot take the Mod 2 without passing the Mod 1 and so you end up being stuck in this middle-of-the-road position, throwing more and more money at retraining and more and more tests to not get any further forward.
Unfortunately, there are no standards or inclusions set for mental health considerations. You are riding and you experience test anxiety. Adrenaline and cortisol are flooding your system, you are hyper-focused but not on riding the motorcycle – on your anxiety.
Suddenly everything becomes dangerous, your heart rate increases, you're sweating, suddenly a brake is pressed here or a throttle is increased or decreased there in order to complete a figure 8 or a slow ride. But it's not what you meant to do, you don’t know what you did and so you don’t know how to correct it. You overcompensate in the wrong area and now that’s the end of your test, unfortunately, a fail and so you rebook in for more training and another test. Again, everything is fine until test centre day and so the cycle repeats.
I don’t know if you have seen PET scans of people with various mental health conditions, but the results are nothing short of astounding. Often it's said that mental health is invisible but seeing scans such as this with increased blood flow and therefore high activity in various areas of the brain, it's not surprising that it is almost impossible to focus on anything but the mental health concern in question.
What you have to remember here is that you passed the CBT and theory training portions of the license, your instructors tell you you can ride, you know you can ride, you’ve ridden in all conditions for miles all over the country but you're blocked by the Mod 1 test.
Then it's reasonable to assume you may pass the Mod 2 road test in order to get your full license because you can ride. The dopamine release you get from riding a motorcycle maintains your mental health but you're blocked by the Mod 1 test. You might be on anti-anxiety medication already but test anxiety tips you over the edge on test day so you're blocked by the Mod 1 test.
The Mod 1 and Mod 2 split test was put in place to increase motorcycle safety but it has been shown to not achieve this. In fact, blocking riders from their full license has actually resulted in more 125cc motorcycle accidents than any other cc according to the stats, simply because they are underpowered and cannot get out of danger as quickly or as easily as other higher cc motorcycles can.
Therefore, this standard set by DVSA is not inclusive for riders with mental health conditions. If it was training like the CBT, it would help riders get further along and maybe even get their full license but it isn’t. It stops riders mid-way. This is what makes this standard discriminatory in nature, can you think of any others?
Are you affected by test anxiety or discriminatory standards? If you are, you can explore these in the therapy space. Contact a therapist near you for more on this.