Secretary Johnson, other motorcyclists ride to promote May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month (5-9)

MAY 9, 2013High Visibility Gear

Training, motorcycle endorsement and proper gear are keys to safety

TAYLOR, Mich. – It isn't every Michigan Secretary of State who could hop onto a Harley-Davidson Sportster and ride with a group of motorcyclists to promote motorcycle safety.

But Secretary Ruth Johnson did just that today, riding into Biker Bob's Harley-Davidson Motown to spotlight the importance of training, having a motorcycle endorsement, wearing proper gear and sharing the road.

"The best way to stay safe on a motorcycle is to make smart decisions," said Secretary Johnson, who was one of the first women in Oakland County to obtain a motorcycle endorsement. "For example, it's best to wear gear made with bright colors and reflective materials. A reflective vest over your jacket or reflective tape on your sleeves or helmet may save your life by making you more visible in traffic."

Secretary Johnson was joined by safety advocates and motorcyclists at Biker Bob's Harley-Davidson dealership for a news conference to promote May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

The month-long campaign stresses the importance of taking motorcycle safety training, having a motorcycle endorsement, wearing high visibility gear and sharing the road as a means of staying safe while riding.

"When it comes to riding gear, I believe in 'All the Gear - All the Time,'" said Frank Calzaretta, the Rider's Edge program manager at Biker Bob's Harley-Davidson Motown. "It's too late after you fall to wish you had spent a little more money on better gear."

Statewide, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is promoting motorcycle safety through a new public service campaign zeroing in on high visibility gear to keep motorcyclists safe.

"In crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a motorcycle, vehicle drivers often state they didn't see the motorcyclist," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. "High-visibility riding gear enhances both daytime and nighttime visibility of motorcyclists to the motoring public so that riders literally stand out in traffic."

OHSP is also using a federal grant to pay for RiderCoach training updates and additional motorcycle safety classes offered through the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Program's public sponsors. The grant is paying for 22 new training motorcycles for the program along with high visibility gear to be used as a teaching tool in the motorcycle safety classes offered at training sites at schools, community colleges, colleges or universities.

"As an avid motorcycle enthusiast, I appreciate what Ruth Johnson, the Michigan Secretary of State, is doing in the month of May to promote motorcycle awareness and safety," said Kurt Sebaly, executive director for the Penrickton Center for Blind Children, a charity supported by the Motown H.O.G. Chapter, Biker Bob's Harley-Davidson and other organizations. "I applaud her efforts to help get motorcyclists in Michigan trained and licensed. I am also grateful for her support to educate the general public to look twice...save a life...motorcycles are everywhere."

All motorcyclists must have an endorsement on their driver's license to ride on Michigan roads. Riders age 18 and older may meet licensing requirements by successfully completing a motorcycle safety course from a public or private sponsor, or by passing a skills test from a third-party testing organization. Teens under age 18 as well as adults who fail a skills test twice are required to pass a motorcycle safety course before an endorsement can be issued. Visit www.michigan.gov/motorcycling for a list of motorcycle safety training programs.

Statistics show that 58 percent of Michigan motorcyclists involved in a fatal or debilitating injury crash did not have an endorsement on their license.

Motorcycling continues to gain in popularity in Michigan. The number of endorsed riders in May 2008 was 518,156 and swelled to 561,878 by May 2012. Women riders have increased their numbers by more than 10,000 during that same time period, jumping from 54,084 in 2008 to 65,183 in 2012.

The Michigan Secretary of State's office administers the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Program. Motorcycle safety courses offered through the program include basic, advanced and refresher classes. More than 120,000 students have attended training since 2001.

To learn more about motorcycling and the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Program, go to www.michigan.gov/sos. Information is also available through the official Secretary of State Twitter feed (www.twitter.com/michsos) and Facebook updates (www.facebook.com/michigansos).

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For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau,
Michigan Secretary of State's Office, at 517-373-2520.