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Anti-tampering – a new threat to motorcycling?

The BMF has warned that aftermarket accessories could be under threat by a new government consultation which aims to outlaw ‘tampering products.’

The Future of transport regulatory review consultation: Modernising vehicle standards’ to give the consulation its full, unwieldy title, is clearly aimed primarily at items such as rechipping or non-catalysed exhausts, but the ‘legalise’ language used is fairly broad and could be interpreted in different ways by different authorities.

The key phrases in the consultation are these: “We will create new offences for tampering with a system, part or component of a vehicle intended or adapted to be used on a road.” The tampering product is defined as, “where a principal effect of the product is to bypass, defeat, reduce the effectiveness of or render inoperative a system, part or component.” This could be a physical part, hardware or (to include rechipping) software.

Any new legislation would apply to “non-road mobile machinery” (such as a motocross bike which isn’t road registered) as well as road vehicles. Other new offences would target manufacturers of tampering devices, anyone who advertises them, fits them or provides a vehicle which has them ready fitted.

So what does all this mean for us? Reading between the lines, the legislators appear to be thinking of anything which bypasses emissions and noise standards, but given the broad language of the consultation, could overzealous authorities use it to target any aftermarket item such as luggage, screens or anti-theft devices?

Anna Zee, the BMF’s Political and Technical Services Director, said: “There is nothing in the consultation document which indicates who would make the judgement, or how, on whether a change to the vehicle bypasses, defeats or reduces the effectiveness etc of a vehicle/system/part/component. While much of the document is focussed on standards for new vehicles there is also nothing here which indicates that the anti-tampering measures could not be applied to the existing vehicle fleet and current aftermarket component suppliers.”

Written by Peter Henshaw