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 Senate today by a vote of 35-3, receiving final legislative approval.
“If you look at the statistics, the number of motorcycle accidents is steadily rising as more motorcycles are registered for our roadways,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “The Federal Highway Authority estimates that about 2,500 motorcycles are involved in traffic accidents each year in New Jersey, and the State Division of Highway Safety notes that motorcycle accidents account for 70 or more fatalities and about 2,000 injuries annually. We should not ignore the facts, and must make sure that all motorcycle operators in the Garden State are given the proper safety instruction to prevent tragedy.”
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.
“Larger motorcycles simply handle differently than smaller motorcycles,” said Senator Sacco. “If you’re practicing on a small-engine bike, that doesn’t qualify you to ride motorcross, but many motorcycle riders make the mistake that because they can safely ride one, they can easily switch to the other. Rather than wait until after a motorcycle accident, this bill proactively discourages riders from taking a motorcycle out on the road that is well beyond their skill level.”
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.
“At the end of the day, we want to create a safer experience for motorcyclists and other drivers on the road,” said Senator Sacco. “The fact remains that motorcycle riders who ignore proper safety precautions and flaunt the rules of the road are a danger not only to themselves, but the rest of the driving public. This bill would ensure that folks follow common sense before they put themselves and others in harm’s way.”
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.