Michigan's motorcycle training course to feature online training component

Motorcycle Safety

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Johnson (left front) kicked off May
is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month today by riding with a cadre
of motorcyclists to a news conference in Livonia.

MAY 1, 2015Ride Safe to Ride Again

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson: New eCourse
allows more time for training, in-class discussion


LIVONIA, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced that Michigan has added an online component to its motorcycle safety training class that allows students to complete the basics online, giving them more time in the classroom and on the range for in-depth discussion and practice.

“We’ve gotten some great feedback from instructors and students who love the new online course because of the advantages it offers,” said Johnson, who was one of the first women in Oakland County to receive a motorcycle endorsement. “Students cover the basics at home at their own speed and concentrate on the more challenging aspects of riding in class and on the range.”

Johnson made the announcement at the Jeffress Center at Schoolcraft College as part of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. She opened the event riding a Harley-Davidson Sportster, leading a group of motorcyclists from the Motor City Harley-Davidson dealership in Farmington Hills to Schoolcraft College.

Joining Johnson at the press conference were Cheryl Hawkins, dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Schoolcraft College; 1st Lt. Michael Shaw, Special Enforcement Section commander and public information officer, Michigan State Police; Kelly Gooch, a Michigan State University student and 2015 Miss Capital City, and Vince Consiglio, coordinator for the Detroit Metro Motorcycle Safety Consortium, Rider Training project, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach Trainer and president of ABATE of Michigan.

About 3,000 motorcycle safety students this year will use the course with the new online portion, which has been introduced into classes in metro Detroit and at Grand Rapids Community College. The online component will be phased in over the next several months and will be part of all publicly and privately offered motorcycle safety courses statewide by 2017.

“The new eCourse has given students both confidence and a buy into the motorcycle safety program,” Consiglio said. “The students are better prepared and, having spent time taking the eCourse, are more committed to being trained.”

The state is also issuing for the first time “high visibility” motorcycle vests to each student that successfully completes the basic rider course offered through a public provider. The vests, which are provided by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning with federal grant money, are made with fluorescent lime green and reflective materials to better alert motorists of the motorcyclist’s presence.

According to the Michigan State Police, nearly 60 percent of riders involved in a crash are not endorsed. To address the problem, the Michigan Department of State has partnered with the Office of Highway Safety Planning in its Shadow Rider campaign. The campaign sends a letter to unendorsed motorcycle owners to encourage them to take a motorcycle safety course if they plan to ride and obtain their endorsement. Riding without a motorcycle endorsement puts the rider at risk of being ticketed and having their motorcycle towed. Since the program began in 2013, about 10,000 recipients of the mailings have obtained their endorsement.

Motorists have an important role in motorcycle safety and are encouraged to always be on the lookout for motorcyclists, especially at intersections. It is not uncommon for drivers to report after a crash that they did not see an oncoming motorcyclist.

“When you are on the road, a split-second decision can make a huge difference.  Continuous training keeps safety top of mind and increases the rider’s chance of making the right choice in a tough situation,” said Hawkins of Schoolcraft College.

Gooch, who lost her brother in a motorcycle crash and advocates for greater motorcycle safety awareness, says safety is a shared responsibility on the road.

“Motorcycle safety pertains to more than just bikers, but everyone on the road,” Gooch said.

State law requires a motorcycle endorsement on the driver’s license to ride legally on Michigan roads. Motorcycle safety classes provide an excellent foundation for developing good riding skills and obtaining the endorsement.

More than 483,000 Michigan residents have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license. There are also more than 251,000 cycles registered in the state.

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office administers the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Program, overseeing the public and private motorcycle safety course providers and training motorcycle instructors. Courses include basic, advanced and refresher courses. More than 120,000 students have attended training since 2001.

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