Secretary Johnson, safety advocates visit west Michigan to promote motorcycle safety

MAY 12, 2011Image: Motorcycle - Riding Safely

Proposed military motorcycle plates are displayed to an enthusiastic crowd

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said today that the best way west Michigan motorcyclists can stay safe on the road is to get trained and licensed, wear the proper gear and share the road. Johnson made her remarks at a news conference at the Farmers Insurance headquarters in Caledonia.

"Safety is a rider's number one priority," said Johnson, a longtime motorcycle rider who drove a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the news conference. "Even riders who have years of experience can be surprised at what they'll learn at a motorcycle safety course."

Johnson, who obtained her first motorcycle endorsement as a teenager, is believed to be one of the first women in Oakland County and the state to get endorsed. A motorcycle endorsement on a driver's license is required by law to ride on public roads.

Jack Hannigan, Executive Vice President of Farmers Independent Agent Operations, accepted an award from the Secretary of State recognizing Farmers for its support of motorcycle safety. For the past decade, Farmers has partnered with the Department of State Motorcycle Safety Program to provide parking lots for motorcycle ranges, buildings for classrooms, storage space and other resources to conduct motorcycle safety courses, all at no cost.

"Farmers Insurance emphasizes the importance of motorcycle safety with programs such as the Motorcycle Safety Program hosted right here on our campus in Caledonia," Hannigan said. "As advocates for Motorcycle Safety Awareness, we are honored to be recognized for our long-term involvement in motorcycle safety and look forward to continuing efforts to keep both riders and drivers as safe as possible on the road."

Johnson also announced her strong support for legislation creating new military motorcycle license plates for veterans under consideration and thanked the bills' sponsors,

Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, and Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, for their hard work. Artwork showing the plates with the emblems of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Air Force was on display.

"I would like to thank the legislature for its support of these new military motorcycle plates and encourage the passage of the bills without delay," Johnson said. "These plates honor those who have valiantly served our country and allow them to display their service with pride."

Also speaking at the news conference were Michael L. Prince, Office of Highway Safety Planning director, Amanda Lackie, Jenison resident and a new Rider Coach at the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) motorcycle safety program, and Eric Williams, Equity and Legislative Affairs executive director, GRCC. Lackie's interest in motorcycle training began when she took a motorcycle safety course and was so inspired she went on to obtain the certification necessary to become a Rider Coach.

According to Prince, it is important for riders to get properly trained and endorsed and to not ride beyond their skill level.

"Providing Michigan riders with basic and advanced motorcycle training opportunities is essential to safe riding and preventing crashes," Prince said. "Wearing full protective gear is also critical to mitigating injuries and increasing a rider's odds of surviving a motorcycle crash."

Motorcycling continues to grow in popularity across the state. Since 2007, the number of endorsed riders has jumped almost 50,000, to 553,000.

To earn their endorsement, riders must successfully complete a knowledge test and a safety course or a skills test with a third-party tester. A safety course is required for 16- and 17-year-olds as well as for adults who fail the skills test twice.

The Department of State administers Michigan's Motorcycle Safety Program. It oversees a network of 29 public and private training programs. More than 87,000 students have attended training since 2004. Visit for a list of motorcycle safety training programs or for more information about safe motorcycling.

Information about motorcycle safety training programs and other department services is available on the department website ( or through the official Secretary of State Twitter feed ( and Facebook updates (


For media questions, please call Randall Thompson at 517-373-2520.