Proposed Maine law changes would affect motorcycle certification

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Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Natasha Bennett navigates a safety course for training exercises during the Basic Rider Course at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. The new facility at JEB Fort Story is the first in the region to offer a devoted classroom and riding course to Department of Defense and military personnel. Civilians can get the same solid education by taking the Basic Rider Course, developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and found at training schools across Maine. (U.S. NAVY PHOTO)
Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Natasha Bennett navigates a safety course for training exercises during the Basic Rider Course at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story. The new facility at JEB Fort Story is the first in the region to offer a devoted classroom and riding course to Department of Defense and military personnel. Civilians can get the same solid education by taking the Basic Rider Course, developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and found at training schools across Maine. (U.S. NAVY PHOTO)

A bill making its way through the Maine State Legislature has some changes in store for motorcyclists.

LD 1483 (SP 581), “An Act To Amend Maine’s Motor Vehicle Laws,” sponsored by Sen. Ronald Collins, a Republican from the Maine Senate’s 2nd District, covers a wide range of disparate changes to various motor-vehicle laws, but two particular sections are targeted to be changed to affect how Mainers get motorcycle endorsements on their licenses.

Sec. 13. 29-A MRSA §1304, sub-§2, ¶E currently reads:

E.  Failure to complete the driving test within 2 years from the date of issuance of a learner’s permit requires examination for a subsequent learner’s permit to be issued.

The proposed change would result in:

E. If the holder of a learner’s permit fails to complete the driving test within 2 years from the date of issuance of a learner’s permit the holder must retake the motorcycle driver education program for a subsequent learner’s permit to be issued.

This seems to be a clarification of the law.

But the next bit is more impactful. Sec. 14. 29-A MRSA §1352, sub-§2, ¶A currently reads:

A.  A motorcycle driver education program must consist of an 8-hour block of instruction directly related to the actual operation of motorcycles, emphasizing safety measures designed to ensure greater awareness of careful and skillful operation of motorcycles.

The proposed change would result in:

A.  A motorcycle driver education program must consist of classroom and hands-on instruction directly related to the actual operation of motorcycles, emphasizing safety measures designed to ensure greater awareness of careful and skillful operation of motorcycles.

This change will effectively do away with the classroom-only training known as the Maine Motorcycle Safety Education Course, or the MMSEC. Currently, the MMSEC is the only requirement to earn a permit, although the permitted motorcyclist still must take a road test before the expiration of the permit in two years. The change will require that all motorcyclists take a hands-on motorcycle course such as the Basic RiderCourse offered through schools affiliated with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

For potential motorcyclists who are seeing red over this, there is a plus side: Passing the two-day, 15-hour, hands-on BRC results not in a permit but in immediate endorsement. The licensed driver actually takes his road test on the training course and doesn’t have to take a road test later. The down side is that the course costs money, in the neighborhood of $300 depending on where you take the course.

The push for better education for motorcyclists is in part out of growing concern for the lack of safety of Maine’s two-wheeled riders. In 2015, 32 people died in motorcycle crashes, the most in a year since 1991.

3 Comments

  1. Would you still get a learners permit if you passed the written exam but failed the riding portion? That is the case today, you can fail day two and still ride a motorcycle with a permit even though you haven’t shown you can do so in a safe manner. The rules imply that you would still get a permit even if you failed the riding portion of the course by stating that you have two years to get your license or the permit expires.

  2. I know 32 is too many but for reference how many motorcycle riders in 1991 compared to 2015?? I would guess the number is SIGNIFICANTLY higher in 2015 and as a percentage of drivers the 32 is statistically low. As usual, follow the money!\

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