With both temperatures and the number of motorcycles traveling on Pennsylvania roadways on the rise, the Wolf Administration Monday reminded drivers and motorcyclists to share the road, obey traffic laws and watch out for one another throughout the riding season.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) and motorcycle safety advocates joined forces to promote and encourage the safe operation of all vehicles. Governor Tom Wolf has proclaimed May Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in Pennsylvania.
“As more and more people enjoy the fun and excitement of motorcycling, it is in the best interest of both motorcyclists and motorists to share the road safely,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “Staying aware while driving or riding, obeying speed limits and being responsible will help lower fatalities and injuries from unnecessary crashes.”
There were 3,578 crashes involving motorcycles on Pennsylvania roadways in 2021, resulting in 226 fatalities. Crashes rose by more than 150 from the 2020 number of 3,404, while fatalities also rose from 217 in 2020.
“We encourage riders to slow down, ride defensively, and remember to not drink and ride in order to keep themselves upright and ready for their next riding adventure,” said Major Robert Krol, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol. “Enrolling in a free safety training class can help motorcycle enthusiasts of all skill levels refresh their skills or even learn some new techniques.”
Through the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP), Pennsylvania residents with a motorcycle permit or license can 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.
PennDOT has contracted with 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.
Classes can be scheduled at multiple training sites throughout Pennsylvania. Class schedules are coordinated by each third-party training provider for their individual locations. Additional information can be found at www.penndot.pa.gov/PAMSP. PennDOT anticipates additional training sites will become available during the 2022 riding season, and customers are encouraged to check the website for updated class offerings.
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.
Once the person’s motorcycle learner’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 should 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 of distance between a motorcycle and your vehicle.
- 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.
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.
For more information on motorcycle safety, visit the PennDOT website.