Secretary Johnson throttles up a Harley-Davidson Sportster to drive home the message of motorcycle safety

MAY 1, 2014SoS Ruth Johnson on motorcycle

May 1 news conference kicks off Motorcycle Safety Month

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – It's May and Ruth Johnson, Michigan's motorcycling Secretary of State, is riding a gleaming Harley-Davidson Sportster to spread the word about motorcycle safety and the importance of sharing the road.

Johnson kicked off May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month today by riding with a cadre of motorcyclists to a news conference at the MotorCity Harley-Davidson dealership in Farmington Hills.

"Eighty percent of motorcycle crashes result in injury or worse for the motorcyclist," said Johnson, who was one of the first women in Oakland County to receive a motorcycle endorsement. "That is why sharing the road safely is so important. Motorists are encouraged to look twice for motorcycles. Motorcyclists are urged to get trained, get endorsed and wear the proper safety gear."

Johnson was joined at the press conference by Dan "Gus" Gusoff, general manager, MotorCity Harley-Davidson, Michael L. Prince, director of the Office of Highway Safety Planning, Vince Consiglio, RiderCoach and coordinator for the Detroit Metro Motorcycle Safety Consortium, and Sgt. Mike Fluhart from the Traffic Safety Section of the Farmington Hills Police Department.

"The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning has long supported strategies to reduce motorcyclist crashes and fatalities by promoting rider training, getting an endorsement and wearing high-visibility protective gear," Prince said. "This spring we are collaborating to spread the ‘Share The Road' message with posters in all Michigan rest areas and welcome centers."

Looking twice for motorcyclists is important because motorcycle-vehicle crashes are most likely to happen at intersections and left turns.

Road conditions that don't bother cars and trucks can pose real threats to motorcycles, so motorists are urged to give motorcyclists extra space.

"It can be something as simple as the glare from sunlight that momentarily blinds you and leads to a crash," Fluhart said. "Motorists and motorcyclists both have a shared responsibility in looking out for the other guy and keeping safe on the road."

State law requires a motorcycle endorsement on the driver's license to ride legally on Michigan roads. Rider training classes provide an excellent foundation for developing safe riding skills and obtaining the endorsement.

"About 58 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2012 in Michigan did not have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver's license," Consiglio said. "Motorcyclists have a responsibility to know how to safely handle their bike. Motorcycle rider education classes are an excellent choice for beginning riders, advanced riders looking to sharpen their skills and those who need to obtain an endorsement."

The popularity of motorcycling continues to grow. In 2012, the Secretary of State had 561,878 endorsements on file. By 2013, the number of men and women with a motorcycle endorsement had grown to 572,441.

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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Customers may call the Department of State Information Center to speak to a customer-service representative at 888-SOS-MICH (767-6424).


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