May Is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month: Don’t Forget to Share the Road

MotorcycleCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

PENNSYLVANIA — Governor Josh Shapiro has declared May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Pennsylvania, in an effort to encourage all drivers and riders to make the roads a safer place. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and motorcycle safety advocates have teamed up to launch a campaign to promote safe and responsible riding practices.

According to Deputy Secretary for Driver and Vehicle Services Kurt Myers, “As more and more people enjoy the fun and excitement of motorcycling, it is important for both riders and drivers to share the road safely.” This campaign aims to remind drivers and motorcyclists to obey traffic laws, stay aware while driving or riding, and watch out for one another throughout the riding season.

To further promote safe and responsible riding, Major Robert Krol, Pennsylvania State Police Director for the Bureau of Patrol, encourages motorcyclists to seek training if needed and never ride while impaired. “Enjoy Pennsylvania’s roadways on your motorcycle, but please do it responsibly and safely,” he says.

The campaign comes after a decrease in crashes and fatalities in 2022 compared to 2021. Though there were approximately 3,369 crashes involving motorcycles last year, resulting in 217 fatalities, crashes fell by more than 200 from the previous year. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and its allies aim to continue this trend and make the roads a safer place for everyone.

Through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP), Pennsylvania residents with a motorcycle permit or license can take advantage of the opportunity to earn a motorcycle license or refresh their skills through a variety of training to help develop safe riding skills, no matter how experienced or inexperienced. The courses include: the Basic Rider Course (BRC); the Intermediate Rider Course (IRC); the Advanced Rider Course (ARC); and the 3-Wheeled Motorcycle Basic Rider Course (3WBRC). Successful completion of a basic or intermediate course waives the requirement to take a skills test at a PennDOT Driver License Center and automatically earns the permit holder their motorcycle license. Motorcycle permit holders who complete a 3-wheel basic course will earn a motorcycle license with restriction prohibiting the operation a of 2-wheel motorcycle.

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PennDOT contracts several third-party motorcycle training providers to offer these safety training classes free of charge to residents with a motorcycle permit or license. Interested individuals are encouraged to contact training providers directly for class availability, as additional courses may be offered, and providers may offer additional walk-in or waiting list opportunities when individuals fail to report for the training. Class schedules are coordinated by each third-party training provider for their individual locations. To find a local training provider, please visit PennDOT’s PAMSP Training Provider Locations page.

To ensure that only properly licensed riders are operating on Pennsylvania roadways, under Act 126 of 2013, after securing their first motorcycle learner’s permit, people may only reapply for a permit up to three times in a five-year period. When a person’s motorcycle leaner’s permit expires, the individual may retake the knowledge test and reapply for a new permit. If a permit holder is unsuccessful in obtaining a motorcycle license after the third permit reapplication, they must wait the entire five years from the initial issuance of the permit to get another one. This law is aimed at preventing the practice of continually extending the permit without retaking the knowledge test or ever taking the skills test and obtaining a motorcycle license.

Some safety tips motorists can keep in mind when sharing the road with motorcycles include:

  • Watch for Motorcycles: be aware that motorcycles are small and may be difficult to see.
  • Check mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes and at intersections.
  • Allow more following distance: leave at least four seconds when following a motorcycle.
  • Always signal your intentions before changing lanes or merging with traffic.
  • Respect a motorcycle as a full-size vehicle with the same rights and privileges as any vehicle on the roadway. Allow a motorcyclist a full lane width as the motorcyclist needs the room to maneuver safely in all types of road conditions.
  • Never drive impaired.
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Motorcyclists can do their part to help avoid crashes by following some simple safety tips:

  • Be seen by wearing reflective clothing and put reflective tape on your protective clothing and motorcycle. Also wear face or eye protection and a DOT-approved helmet.
  • Use common sense by riding sober, obeying all speed limits and allowing enough time to react to potentially dangerous situations.
  • Know your motorcycle and conduct a pre-ride check.
  • Practice safe riding techniques and know how to handle your motorcycle in adverse road and weather conditions.

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