Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, safety advocates promote safe riding, urge motorists to be alert

May 2, 2016 Motorcycle Safety News ConferenceMAY 2, 2016

Warmer weather means more motorcyclists on the road

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today drove a Harley-Davidson Street 500 to a news conference at Oakland Community College’s Auburn Hills campus to highlight the critical need for motorists and motorcyclists to safely share the road.

Johnson rode to the news conference from the ABC Harley-Davidson dealership in Waterford Township to publicize May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Joining her was a group of fellow motorcyclists, including Timothy Taylor, OCC Auburn Hills campus president.

“The road beckons on a beautiful day and that means more motorcyclists will be out riding,” said Johnson, who rode her first motorcycle at the age of 12.  “We’re here today to remind everyone that whether you drive two, three or four wheels, safety on the road begins with you.”

Motorcycle safety is an important issue in Michigan. Statistics show that 80 percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury and death. To help avoid such tragedies, motorists are advised to:

  • Watch out at intersections ‒ they are the No. 1 spot for crashes with motorcyclists;
  • Scan approaching traffic carefully when making left turns – a motorcycle’s smaller size makes it easy to miss;
  • Double check blind spots when changing lanes;
  • Keep at least 3-4 seconds between your vehicle and a motorcyclist;
  • Treat motorcyclists with respect and courtesy – they have the same rights as any other driver and are legally entitled to a full lane.

Motorcyclists have an equally important role in ensuring they are prepared to ride. According to the Michigan State Police, nearly 50 percent of riders involved in a crash did not have a motorcycle endorsement. The smartest steps that motorcyclists can take to avoid trouble are to:

  • Take a motorcycle safety class. Classes are available for all skill levels;
  • If you don’t have it, get the motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license – it is the law;
  • Always wear the appropriate safety gear;
  • Choose a motorcycle suited for your size and skill level.

The news conference took place at OCC’s Combined Regional Emergency Services Training Center. Speakers included OCC Chancellor Timothy Meyer; and Michael L. Prince, director of the Office of Highway Safety Planning. Also attending was Tracy Eikner, who works with the motorcycle safety training programs at Schoolcraft College, Brighton Harley-Davidson, Motor City Harley-Davidson in Farmington, and Motor City Power Sports in Bloomfield Hills; Jennifer Loberman, marketing director at ABC Harley-Davidson in Waterford Township; and Rich Henrion from Norway in the Upper Peninsula, who retired last year after 35 years as a RiderCoach and RiderCoach trainer.

“I would like to thank Secretary Johnson for her long-standing commitment to motorcycle safety,” Meyer said. “Michigan’s motorcycle safety program provides students with the critical foundation needed to become proficient riders with time and practice. Oakland Community College has offered these classes for more than six years at the college’s Orchard Ridge campus. We are proud to announce we are now offering a new motorcycle safety course at our Auburn Hills campus to continue to support this effort.”

To address the problem of unendorsed riders, the Secretary of State’s Office and the OHSP are overseeing a multi-year program called the Shadow Rider Campaign. Launched in 2013, the campaign targets those without a motorcycle endorsement and informs them of the risks of riding without it.

“The Shadow Rider campaign is having a positive effect in reaching unendorsed riders,” Prince said. “Since the campaign started, the number of unendorsed riders has fallen from 50,000 to 40,000, which is a decrease of 20 percent.”

The Michigan Motorcycle Safety Training Program offers classes for riders at all experience levels. Classes are provided through public organizations, such as colleges and universities, and select Harley-Davidson dealers. A new online component has been added that allows students to study the basics at home, freeing up classroom and range time for the more demanding aspects of motorcycling.

Johnson added that the motorcycle safety program is seeking RiderCoaches as new classes are opening up and some current instructors are retiring. To apply for a RiderCoach preparation course, candidates must have excellent riding and communication skills and be at least 18 years old. Visit www.michigan.gov/motorcycling and select Approved Sponsor and RiderCoach Information for complete information about the program and the criteria for applying.

Michigan has 488,765 residents with a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license and 249,547 registered motorcycles. A motorcycle endorsement is required to drive on public roads. To obtain an endorsement, you must successfully pass a motorcycle safety course OR pass a written and vision test at a Secretary of State office, obtain a motorcycle temporary instruction permit which allows you to practice riding legally on the streets, pass a motorcycle skills test at a third-party testing organization, and present your skills test certificate at a branch office. The motorcycle safety course is required for teens.

> Larger Image of today's news conference

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For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau 
or Fred Woodhams at 517-373-2520.

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