State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Teen motorcyclists singled out for new safety requirement

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Sep 9, 2012 4:08 AM

The state’s youngest seekers of thrill and intrigue on two wheels are in store for a bit of a buzz-kill: the state’s Basic Rider Course is now a mandatory hurdle to 16- and 17-year olds getting a motorcycle driver’s license.

It’s a 15-hour course, teaching “the fundamentals of responsible riding,” and consisting of five hours of classroom instruction and 10 hours of riding on a closed course.  The law requiring it went into effect at the end of August (the bill was passed along with the state budget at the end of June, and signed in July).  Hours in the class count toward the total 65 driving hours required of teen bikers looking to get their license (that 65-hours amount remained unchanged under the state law). 

Lawmakers trumpet its capacity to make the roads safer and combat inexperience among teen motorcyclists.  But making the basic course mandatory wouldn’t amount to a huge change.  Jan McKnight, a spokeswoman for PennDOT, said that of the 219 under-18 riders who received their motorcycle licenses last year, 176 of them, or 80 percent, went through the course. 

Pennsylvania residents don’t have to pay for the course, but that doesn’t mean they’re getting it for free – it’s paid for using a portion of the fee on motorcycle licenses.

McKnight said it’s still too early to tell if the additional requirement is spurring a spike in registration among 16- and 17-year-olds.  “Right now we haven’t seen any measurable increase, but it’s only because it’s been so new,” said McKnight. 

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia -- Taken in New Wilmington, PA.

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