Can you see me now?

MAY 1, 2013  High Visibility Gear

Secretary Johnson, other motorcyclists ride to Battle Creek
Air National Guard base for motorcycle safety news conference


BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – As a motorcyclist, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson knows how important it is to be seen when riding.

"The best way to stay safe on a motorcycle is to make smart decisions," said Johnson, who was one of the first women in Oakland County to obtain a motorcycle endorsement. "For example, it's best to wear gear made with bright colors and reflective materials. A reflective vest over your jacket or reflective tape on your sleeves or helmet may save your life by making you more visible in traffic."

Secretary Johnson, on a Harley-Davidson Sportster, and other motorcyclists rode today from Fort Custer National Cemetery to the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base for a news conference to kick off May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.

The month-long campaign will promote the importance of taking motorcycle safety training, having a motorcycle endorsement, wearing high visibility gear and sharing the road.

"The right skills, right training, and right attitude are key to applying the right strategies for a motorcycle rider," stated Col. Ronald Wilson, commander, 110 Airlift Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

The Department of Defense is emphasizing motorcycle safety and training because motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for U.S. enlisted military personnel during peacetime. A study of vehicle crashes among all armed service personnel from 1999 to 2010 showed that motorcycle crashes accounted for about one-fourth of all motor vehicle-related deaths.

"Developing skills and gearing up will help riders to remain aware and safe while on the road," said SMSgt. Michael LaBruzzy, ground safety manager, 110 Airlift Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, and motorcycle safety instructor. "The goal is to reduce the chance of a motorcycle-related injury or fatality, which is why all personnel are required to pass a motorcycle safety course before riding on or off the base."

Statewide, the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) is promoting motorcycle safety through a new public service campaign zeroing in on high visibility gear to keep motorcyclists safe.

"In crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a motorcycle, vehicle drivers often state they didn't see the motorcyclist," said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. "High-visibility riding gear enhances both daytime and nighttime visibility of motorcyclists to the motoring public so that riders literally stand out in traffic."

OHSP is also using a federal grant to pay for RiderCoach training updates and additional motorcycle safety classes offered through the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Program's public providers. The grant also pays for 20 new training motorcycles for the program along with high visibility gear to be used as a teaching tool in the motorcycle safety classes offered through publically sponsored training sites at schools, community colleges, colleges or universities.

"Grand Rapids Community College is starting its 6th year of the training partnership with the Michigan Secretary of State's Office, training over 3,600 riders," said Fiona Hert, dean of the School of Workforce Development at GRCC. "We are honored to be a partner because this training saves lives and benefits our community."

All motorcyclists must have an endorsement on their driver's license to ride on Michigan roads. Riders 18 and older may meet licensing requirements by successfully completing a motorcycle safety course from a public or private provider, or by passing a skills test from a third-party testing organization. Teens under age 18 as well as adults who fail a skills test twice, are required to pass a motorcycle safety course before an endorsement can be issued.

Statistics show that 58 percent of Michigan motorcyclists involved in a crash did not have an endorsement on their license.

Motorcycling continues to gain in popularity in Michigan. The number of endorsed riders in May 2008 was 518,156 and swelled to 561,878 by May 2012. Women riders have increased their numbers by more than 10,000 during that same time period, jumping from 54,084 in 2008 to 65,183 in 2012.

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.

Visit for a list of motorcycle safety training programs. To learn more about motorcycling and the Michigan Motorcycle Safety Program, go to Information is also available through the official Secretary of State Twitter feed ( and Facebook updates (



For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau,
Michigan Secretary of State's Office, at 517-373-2520.