Gov. LePage signs LD 1483 into law; Basic RiderCourse now required for motorcycle endorsement

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(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK)
(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY DAVID M. FITZPATRICK)

It’s official: New motorcyclists in Maine must take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse in order to earn a motorcycle endorsement.

On April 15, Gov. Paul LePage signed LD 1483, which was described in a press release from the office of the Secretary of State as “emergency legislation,” into law.

In 2015, Maine saw the most motorcycle deaths since 1992, when 32 people died, prompting the Department of the Secretary of State to propose the law change to promote safety.

“This legislation represents a life-saving improvement in our approach to motorcycle licensing and we’d like to thank the Legislature and Gov. LePage for their support,” said Secretary Matthew Dunlap in the press release.

Previously, riders needed only take an eight-hour classroom course—the Maine Motorcycle Safety Education Course, or MMSEC—to earn a permit and could take a road test later on to earn an endorsement. Critics of this process have routinely states that this does not equip riders with the basic safety skills necessary to ride a motorcycle

“By increasing the education requirements for a motorcycle endorsement, we hope to see a significant decline in motorcyclist fatalities on Maine roads,” said Dunlap. “Eight hours of classroom instruction alone is not enough to give new riders the skills they need to safely operate on the open road.”

Riders have been able to opt for the 15-hour, two-day Basic RiderCourse, which combines the classroom component of the permit course with a hefty dose of range training under a certified MSF instructor. The BRC is a series of 17 real-world, on-the-bike exercises, each building off the previous ones, that begin with the basics of understanding a motorcycle and progress to more difficult maneuvers, all with an eye on education and safety. Students who pass the BRC’s written and road tests earn a motorcycle endorsement that day.

There will also no longer be permit renewals as there have been in the past. A motorcyclist whose permit expires will have to take the BRC just as any new prospective ride.

There has been increased interest in the BRC since it was first offered 10 years ago, even though it wasn’t required. Before the course was available, the BMV conducted an annual average of more than 3,000 road tests. Last year, it conducted just 744.

“Today, most customers calling in are asking for information relative to the BRC program and where they can take it,” said Patty Morneault, deputy secretary of state for the BMV.

With the signing of LD 1483 into law, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles will only recognize the BRC for motorcycle licensing, and it was enacted immediately. However, those who complete the MMSEC course by May 15 will be grandfathered and can still take a BMV road test.

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