Measure Would Set Safety Guidelines for New Motorcycle Riders
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco which would establish safety guidelines for new motorcycle riders in order to improve rider safety in the Garden State was approved by the Assembly today by a vote of 67-7.
“According to the Federal Highway Authority, about 2,500 motorcycles are involved in traffic accidents each year on New Jersey’s roadways,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “According to the State Division of Highway Safety, motorcycle accidents account for 70 or more fatalities a year and about 2,000 injuries. We cannot ignore these statistics, and we must make sure that motorcycle riders follow proper precautions to make sure they can navigate New Jersey’s roadways safely.”
The bill, S-736, would enact several motorcycle safety regulations. Under the bill, if a person is issued a motorcycle license for a vehicle with a smaller-size engine – less than 231 cubic centimeters – they would be legally prohibited from operating a motorcycle with an engine displacement of more than 500 cc. Senator Sacco said that this provision would ensure that new motorcycle riders are restricted from operating vehicles with engines that are too powerful for that driver’s skill level.
“The fact remains that a large-engine motorcycle is much harder to control than a small-engine motorcycle,” said Senator Sacco. “The problem that a lot of new motorcycle riders run into is that they assume that because they can operate a Vespa scooter, they can jump on a super-tuned sports bike and it will handle approximately the same. It’s not until after their first accident that they realize that different machines handle very differently.”
The bill would also create a new category of low-speed motorcycles to address the increased use of small motorcycles, and would prohibit low-speed motorcycles from being operated on limited-access interstate highways of public roads with speed limits in excess of 35 miles per hour.
The bill would allow the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to waive requirements for a motorcycle license or endorsement for holders of an examination permit if that holder completes a recognized motorcycle safety education course. The bill would also require all applicants under the age of 18 to complete a motorcycle safety program as a condition for licensure or endorsement. Finally the bill would clarify the times, roadways and conditions on which holders of an exam permit may practice. The bill would prohibit permit holders from operating a motorcycle in the dark, carrying passengers and operating a motorcycle on the State’s toll roads or limited access highways.
“The ultimate goal through this legislation is to create a safer environment for motorcyclists and other drivers on our roads,” said Senator Sacco. “Motorcyclists who ignore proper safety precautions are a danger to themselves and to others. This bill would make sure that folks follow common sense before they put themselves and the rest of the driving public at risk.”
The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 31-3 on August 23, but must be returned to consider Assembly amendments which were largely technical in nature. If approved in the Senate, it would head to the Governor to be signed into law.