Noting their disproportionate involvement in crashes, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Thursday encouraged baby boomers who ride a motorcycle or are thinking about it to take a returning-rider safety course, even if they rode in their younger days.
“Riders in their 50s and 60s who are getting back into motorcycling are strongly encouraged to take one of the rider education refresher courses we offer,” Johnson said. “People joke about never forgetting how to ride a bike, but operating a motorcycle is different. It requires constant practice to develop the judgment and skills necessary to identify and avoid hazardous situations on the road.”
Boomers interested in refreshing their riding skills should look into the department’s Returning Rider Basic Rider Course and the Advanced Rider Course. The department also offers a class for three-wheeled motorcycles, and a Basic Rider Course designed for those who are new to or wish to review the fundamentals of motorcycling.
Johnson noted that male motorcycle riders aged 50-69 were involved in 34.1 percent of all two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and 33.6 percent of all single-vehicle crashes (crashes just involving the motorcyclist). Female riders aged 40-59 are at the greatest risk of being involved in either a multiple vehicle or single vehicle crash.
“Our goal is to keep everyone safe on the road,” she added. “Motorcyclists should take a rider education safety course, always wear the proper gear and make sure they have the motorcycle endorsement before they ride.”
Johnson made her remarks at a news conference celebrating May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Johnson, on a 883 cc Harley-Davidson Sportster, rode to the news conference with a group of riders, starting from parking lot of the Capital Area SUPER!Center, 3315 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing, and ending at the State Capitol. Speakers at the event were Special 1st Lt. Jim Flegel, Michigan State Police, Eric Larson, state director for the Gold Wing Touring Association, and Steve Lick, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach, trainer and coordinator for the motorcycle safety program at Grand Rapids Community College.
The month-long motorcycle awareness campaign will promote the importance of taking motorcycle rider safety training, having a motorcycle endorsement, wearing high visibility gear and sharing the road.
The Michigan Rider Education Program first offered a three-wheeled vehicle safety course through a public sponsor in 2015. Since then, 33 students have taken the class. This year, in a pilot program with Can-Am, 12 Can-Am Spyders have been loaned to three-wheeled vehicle rider education courses at Grand Rapids Community College and Schoolcraft College. Three-wheeled vehicle safety courses are also available through select private sponsors listed on the Michigan Rider Education Program training locator Web page.
“Three-wheeled vehicles offer another exciting possibility for riders,” Johnson said. “But whether you are on two wheels or three, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have the skills and training required to ride safely.”
Visit www.michigan.gov/motorcycling for a list of motorcycle safety training programs across the state. To learn more about motorcycling and the Michigan Rider Education Program, go to www.michigan.gov/mi-rep.
More information about motorcycling in Michigan is available on the Motorcycle Fact Sheet.