Motorcycles, veterans and safety highlight Secretary Johnson's news conference in Lapeer

MAY 27, 2011Image: Motorcycle - Riding Safely

Proposed military motorcycle plates displayed
to an enthusiastic crowd gathered for
news conference at Ray C's Harley-Davidson ©


Proposed military motorcycle plates pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of Michigan veterans and are a great way to show support for the armed services, said Secretary of State Ruth Johnson amid cheers at a news conference at Ray C's Harley-Davidson© dealership in Lapeer.

Johnson showcased her strong support for military motorcycle plate legislation and thanked the bills' sponsors, Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, and Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, for their hard work. Artwork of the plates with the emblems of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Air Force was on display.

Johnston made her remarks in honor of the upcoming Memorial Day holiday and to promote May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Since the first week in May, Johnson has been taking her message of motorcycling safety to groups across the state.

"Every rider should always be thinking safety first," said Johnson, a longtime motorcycle rider who drove a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the news conference. "Wearing the proper gear, getting the endorsement on your license and sharing the road are three important aspects of motorcycling safety."

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.

Also speaking at the news conference were Ray Clemens, owner of Ray C's Harley-Davidson©, Lapeer County Sheriff Ronald Kalanquin, City of Lapeer Mayor William Sprague, Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, Adjutant General and Director of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Jim Rhoades, Rider Coach and legislative director of ABATE of Michigan.

"We appreciate everything Secretary Johnson is doing to bring more attention to motorcyclists," Clemens said, after accepting a special award of thanks from the Secretary. "Training and greater awareness will help save lives."

Johnson also presented Maj. Gen. Vadnais with a plaque acknowledging the military's commitment to motorcycle safety.

"To lose a member of the National Guard in a motorcycle crash is unthinkable, but it has happened," said Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais. "Requiring riders to take a motorcycle safety course helps ensure they have the skills and knowledge to ride smarter and safer."

Kalanquin and his motorcycle unit were presented with a plaque by Johnson for their commitment to motorcycle and traffic safety awareness and for their service to the residents of Lapeer County.

"Motorcyclists should choose a motorcycle suited for their size and skills," Kalanquin said. "And, even experienced riders can benefit from a motorcycle safety refresher course."

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.