Motorcycle safety urged during awareness month
HARRISBURG - In recognition of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch joined representatives of motorcycle riding and training communities, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), to urge riders and motorists to be safe around motorcycles.
"Both motorcycle fatalities and crashes dropped last year from the year before and overall crash fatalities are at historic lows," Schoch said. "The continuing support of the riding community, along with legislation regarding motorcycle safety, provides important tools we can use to help ensure the safety and survivability of riders here in Pennsylvania."
Adding their messages of support for safety and training for experienced and novice riders were PSP Commissioner Frank Noonan and representatives from the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education and the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP).
"One of the most difficult tasks of a state trooper is to inform a family member that a loved one was suddenly and tragically killed in a fatal crash," Noonan said. "Sadly, some of these crashes may have been prevented, had the driver exercised responsible driving practices. I encourage you to be properly licensed, know your driving capabilities, and most importantly, ride within your limitations and do your part to be safe when riding."
This year marks 30 years since passage of the 1984 legislation that established the PAMSP. Gov. Tom Corbett has built on that legacy with two motorcycle safety laws, Act 84 of 2012 and Act 126 of 2013.
Act 84 of 2012 applies all young driver rules, with the exception of driving at night and in inclement weather, to individuals under the age of 18 seeking a motorcycle license. This means the individual must hold a motorcycle learner's permit for six months and complete 65 hours of skill building on a motorcycle, including taking and successfully completing the Basic Riders Course offered through PAMSP in order to receive their motorcycle license. The Basic Rider Course consists of 15 hours of training and counts toward the 65 hour skills building requirement.
Under Act 126, after securing their first motorcycle learner's permit, people may reapply for another up to three times in a five-year period. The law is aimed at preventing the practice of continually extending the permit without retaking the knowledge test or ever taking the skills test and obtaining a motorcycle license.
Act 126 prohibits PennDOT from renewing a person's motorcycle learner's permit. Once the person's motorcycle leaner's permit expires, the individual may retake the knowledge test and reapply for a new one. If a permit holder is unsuccessful in obtaining a motorcycle license after the third permit reapplication, they must wait the entire five years from the initial issuance of the permit to get another one.
Nearly 3,500 crashes involving motorcycles occurred on Pennsylvania roadways in 2013, 500 fewer than in 2012. Those crashes resulted in 181 motorcyclist fatalities, as opposed to 210 deaths in 2012. The number of registered motorcycles in Pennsylvania decreased in 2013 by just over 3,800, while the number of licensed motorcyclists increased by nearly 6,000.
For more information on free motorcycle training for Pennsylvania residents with a motorcycle license or permit or to enroll in a course, go to www.pamsp.com or call 1-800-845-9533.