Shadow Rider

Michigan's "Shadow Rider" Project

The unendorsed motorcyclist continues to be over-represented in motorcycle crashes and fatalities. Motorcycle rider education serves as the first point of preparation for safe motorcycle riding in Michigan. The Michigan Department of State (MDOS) manages the Michigan Rider Education Program (MI-REP) that teaches basic riding skills to motorcyclists seeking their cycle (CY) endorsement. With the support of several Michigan motorcyclist safety partners, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) has used two methods of contacting riders to remind them to get endorsed.

The postcard program started in 2013, when it was determined that 50,000 of the state's 250,000 registered motorcycles (20%) were being operated by unendorsed riders. In 2018, that number was down to 38,000 - a 24% reduction in the number of unendorsed riders.


Number of Postcards Mailed to Unendorsed Riders


Mailing Date


Shadow Rider Postcard 2013

March 2013


Shadow Rider Postcard 2014

March 2014


Shadow Rider Postcard 2015

March 2015


Shadow Rider Postcard 2015-2

June 2015


Shadow Rider Postcard 2016

February 2016


Shadow Rider Postcard 2016-2

June 2016


Shadow Rider Postcard 2017

March 2017


Shadow Rider Postcard 2017-2

July 2017*


Shadow Rider Postcard 2018

May 2018


*New method of data pulled for July 2017 mailer

Starting in 2018, the OHSP also started a digital "Shadow Rider" campaign. Using targeted messaging and ads on Facebook and Twitter, the campaign received more than 1.2 million impressions. In 2019, the number of impressions increased to nearly 2.4 million. The number of unendorsed riders at the start of 2019 was down to 26,000, a nearly 50% reduction in unendorsed riders since the start of the "Shadow Rider" campaign.

Both the postcard mailer and digital campaign have proven to be effective at driving unendorsed riders to the MDOS Training Site Locator web page, as monthly visits to the page are two-to-three times higher during campaign periods.


Dates of Campaign


2018 Facebook

7/16/18 - 8/12/18


2018 Twitter

7/16/18 - 9/2/18


2018 TOTAL



2019 Facebook

2/18/19 - 7/22/19


2019 Twitter

2/18/19 - 7/8/19


2019 TOTAL




In the fall of 2016, legislation was passed and signed by the Governor, that increased the penalties for operating a motorcycle in Michigan without the proper endorsement. A person's first violation is punishable by a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail, or both. A second offense is punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 1 year in jail, or both. This legislation is highlighted in the "Shadow Rider" campaign, encouraging unendorsed riders to seek out training and get endorsed.