MMA Legislative Update-Motorcycle Junior Operator Training Bill Signed
The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) announces that Senate Bill 2344, dubbed Ryan’s Bill, an “Act relative to assuring that motorcyclists between the ages of 16 and 18 are provided with adequate education relative to the proper safety and operation of a motorcycle.” has been signed into law by Governor Deval Patrick.
Responding to requests from families across the Commonwealth, the MMA took the task of analyzing the impact formal training would have on Junior Operators wishing to earn a Motorcycle License in Massachusetts before filing formal legislation. On behalf of Ryan Orcutt, a 16 year-old from Brockton who died in a motorcycle accident, parents Roger & Diane Orcutt approved calling this legislation “Ryan’s Bill”, in his honor.
Recognizing the additional burden formal training may require, MMA Legislative Director Rick Gleason states, “A weekend of formal training sets the stage for a lifetime of motorcycling enjoyment and the skills acquired through training can help a rider avoid a crash.”
This new legislation in no way mandates formal training for all, it affects those under 18 who wish to earn their motorcycle license. Noting that current Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) regulations require 40+ hours of formal training before a Junior Operator may obtain a license to operate an automobile, the MMA thought long and hard about addressing the issue of formal training for a motorcycle license. “Cars and bikes are more powerful than those when I started to ride some 30+ years ago, and there are more of them on the road who are driving more and more aggressively” states Doc D’Errico, MMA Safety & Education Director. “I am a current Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Instructor and I coach 16 year-olds all the time who come in because “Mom made me”.
Noting the motorcycle training curriculum has been updated substantially from years past, “Riders rave about the current training curriculum and after a couple hours in the rider course, these riders realize how worthwhile this experience is for them. They actually thank us afterwards.” Doc adds.
Uninformed critics have spoken out about the supposed lack of formal training facilities and the burden to the state this law introduces, yet they haven’t gathered data to substantiate these unfounded claims. The MMA requested ten (10) years worth of data directly from the RMV and actually counted how many junior motorcycle operators would have been affected in each of these ten (10) years. The MMA then went to the various training site owner\operators across the state and questioned the capacity at each of their locations. This fact-finding analysis determined that the nine (9) training organizations operating fifteen (15) separate locations across the state are fully staffed with Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP) Ridercoachs and have sufficient capacity to handle the workload.
One such training operator is Training Wheels which runs six (6) training locations. Rick Siegel, president of Training Wheels comments, “Over the past eleven years that we have been in business we have received hundreds of emails and letters from our past students in appreciation of what the Basic Rider Course (BRC) has done for them as a new rider by providing not only confidence but valuable accident avoidance techniques that have been successfully (and thankfully) used in the “real world”. It has been especially frustrating to us that the younger, inexperienced drivers do not truly recognize the dangers of sharing the road until often it is too late and therefore do not think to take the BRC before getting on a motorcycle. This new law no doubt will result in an immediate improvement in motorcycle rider safety amongst young riders and will benefit countless families throughout Massachusetts for years to come.”
MREP Officials reported earlier this year that the ten (10) years of information from the Massachusetts RMV was analyzed to find that just over 63% of those involved in fatal motorcycle accidents have never received any formal motorcycle rider training and 22.5% of motorcycle fatalities were from riders under the age of 21.
MMA Chairman Dave Condon further clarifies that passage of Ryan’s Bill does not mandate a junior operator take a motorcycle training course. "A motorcycle permit in this state is good for two years. Therefore, a junior motorcycle operator can still ride on his\her permit beyond their 18th birthday, and take the road test offered by the Registry of Motor Vehicles.” Condon further stated. "The MMA was very careful in not taking anyone's choice away or interfering with a parent’s right to decide what is best for their child."
Questions and\or comments can be sent to: LegislativeDirector@MassMotorcycle.org. The Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) is the nationally recognized motorcycle rights organization (MRO) of Massachusetts and is celebrating its 35th year of operation, fighting for the rights and privileges of riders across the Commonwealth. All Massachusetts motorcycle activists are encouraged to visit the official MMA Web Site at: www.MassMotorcycle.org for additional information regarding MMA operations.