2010-11-12 / Community

Motorcyclists Taking Advantage Of State Program

Commissioner David J. Swarts of the Department of Motor Vehicles as announced significant progress in expanding the availability of motorcycle training in New York State. The New York State Motorcycle Safety Program is training more riders in more venues than ever before.

The program is on track to train 16,500 riders by the end of 2010, an increase of more than 22 percent from 2009. Since the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) began administering the state program in June, 2009, the number of training sites has expanded from 23 to 43, making motorcycle training more available to New Yorkers. Wait times between enrollment and course start date have decreased from an average of 45 days to nine days.

“New York State is bucking a national trend that has seen declining enrollment in many state-sponsored rider training programs” said Commissioner Swarts. “Our steady increase in enrollment is very positive given the importance of basic rider training in producing safer motorcyclists.”

“It’s vital for every state to make motorcycle rider training readily available and we’re very pleased with the tremendous progress in New York,” said Tim Buche, president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. “We are looking ahead to New York playing a role in MSF research programs, with studies designed to further improve rider safety.”

The Basic Rider Course is a 15-hour training program including classroom and on-motorcycle instruction. It is designed for beginner and re-entry riders and allows them to learn or review basic riding skills. Students who possess a valid driver’s license and valid motorcycle learner’s permit may use successful completion of the course as an alternative to the DMV-administered motorcycle road test. Since the DMV began offering the road test waiver benefit in 1996, more than 100,000 motorcyclists have taken the Basic Rider Course in New York State.

With the rise in popularity of motorcycling, an increased emphasis on training, safety and enforcement has become even more important. There are more motorcycles on the road than ever before. Over the past decade the number of motorcycle licenses has increased nearly 30 percent and registrations nearly 77 percent. Although there was a dip in motorcycle fatalities in 2009, the number of fatal and personal injury crashes has also been steadily trending upward over that period, with a 61 percent increase. This, at a time when car crashes continue to decrease and are at historic lows.

To combat this motorcycle crash trend, DMV and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee have implemented a number of strategies to promote motorcycle safety, focusing on education, awareness and enforcement.

One strategy was to develop and release the “Learning Is for Life” motorcycle safety video encouraging lifelong rider education. Videos were provided to rider groups and safety organizations throughout the state. It is also available publicly on You Tube and on Time Warner Cable as an On- Demand feature statewide.

Another strategy was to work with the MSF to increase the availability of courses throughout New York and to also expand the program to include scooters and three-wheeled motorcycles which are becoming increasingly popular in the motorcycling community. DMV has also implemented a program to ensure that every applicant for a motorcycle permit receives a New York State Motorcycle Safety Program brochure informing them of the availability and importance of rider education.

DMV and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC), in cooperation with the New York State Broadcasters Association, have been airing a 30-second commercial urging drivers to “ Share the Road with Motorcycles” in an effort to reduce car-motorcycle crashes.

DMV and GTSC have worked with the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, State Police and local law enforcement to provide a comprehensive motorcycle safety awareness and law enforcement training program to law enforcement officers and traffic safety professionals throughout the state.

For more information on local MSF courses, please visit the New York State Motorcycle Safety Program website at www.NYSMSP.org or contact the DMV Motorcycle Safety Program at MotorcycleSafety@dmv.ny.gov.

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