Secretary Johnson, safety advocates highlight May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Farmington Hills

MAY 15, 2012Image: Motorcycle - Riding Safely

Johnson, a longtime rider, and fellow motorcyclists cruise into press conference

FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, fellow motorcycle riders from across Michigan and safety advocates highlighted May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month today, urging riders to wear the proper gear, take advantage of safety courses and share the road.

"Michigan has more than half a million motorcyclists and as we head into the warm weather, we need to do everything we can to be safe – wear the proper gear, stay aware and take rider education classes," said Johnson, who rode a HarleyDavidson Sportster to the event, held at MotorCity Harley-Davidson Dealership in Farmington Hills. "Car and truck drivers, please be cautious. With gas at nearly $4 per gallon and expected to go higher this summer, we'll probably see more motorcyclists on the road."

During Tuesday's press event a new motorcycle safety video also debuted. The 90-second public service video, a joint project of the Michigan Secretary of State's office, the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Michigan State Police, will air on the TV system in Secretary of State branches throughout Michigan. The video features Johnson, Michigan State Police Col. Kriste Kibbey Etue and Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle.

In a statement released today, Kibbey Etue urged motorcycle riders to take responsibility for their own safety, saying: "The law says motorcyclists must have an endorsement on their driver's license in order to ride. Nearly half of all motorcycle crashes involve riders who are not properly trained or licensed. There is no substitute for proper training and I encourage all motorcyclists to train smart and complete the necessary training before riding."

Other advances in motorcycle safety efforts include expansion of the advanced rider motorcycle training courses and a new one-day returning rider or refresher training course.

Johnson was joined by Office of Highway Safety Planning Director Michael L. Prince, who said: "Motorcyclists are obviously much more vulnerable to injury than passenger vehicle occupants. For that reason, we urge riders to take the state's basic and advanced rider safety courses, to always ride defensively, and to wear protective gear that makes them visible to other motorists. The best person to look out for a motorcycle rider's safety is the rider."

Scott Wilson, general manager of MotorCity Harley-Davidson, agreed, saying: "I believe that every person who rides a motorcycle should receive training to safely enjoy all of the adventures that a motorcycle provides."

Motorcycling continues to grow in popularity across the state. Since 2007, the number of endorsed riders has jumped almost 50,000, to 553,000. More than 60,000 of those riders are women.

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

Riders must successfully complete a knowledge test and a safety course or a skills test with a third-party tester before an endorsement is issued. A safety course is required for 16- and 17-year-olds as well as for adults who fail the skills test twice.

The Michigan Secretary of State's office administers Michigan's Motorcycle Safety Program, overseeing a network of 30 public and private training programs. Courses include basic, advanced and refresher courses for Michigan motorcyclists. More than 120,000 students have attended training since 2001.

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 at or through the official Secretary of State Twitter feed ( and Facebook updates (


For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau,
Michigan Department of State, at 517-373-2520.

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