Watson On: Unlicensed Riders

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Watson On: Unlicensed Riders

You probably didn’t even know this but this week marks the start of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month across the U.S. for the month of May. Come to think of it I’d forgotten about this annual event too.

For all of May, road users are being asked to “share the road” by the Government’s National Highways Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and it reminds them to keep an eye out for riders in order to “help prevent crashes, deaths and injuries”.

This campaign has been running for several years now and while I accept its intentions to be entirely honorable it doesn’t actually get to the root of the problem and address why more riders are increasingly dying on the roads of the U.S. than ever before.

For me, National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month will do little to alleviate the real problems, as neither motorcyclists nor other road users are entirely free from blame.

If you look at NHTSA’s initial figures for 2012 (the full figures won’t be published until the end of this year) there is an alarming spike in motorcycle riders’ deaths with 4,957 killed in traffic accidents. That’s a staggering 15% of all highway fatalities across the U.S. in 2012. Injured riders also increased from 81,000 in 2011 to 93,000 in 2012.

But if you go back one year to the full NHTSA report on motorcycle safety, almost one in four riders involved in fatal accident did not have a valid license. The reason? Well take the state of Wisconsin for example where in 2012, 116 riders were killed, yet of those a staggering 43% of those fatalities were unlicensed riders. Greg Patzer, manager of the Wisconsin Motorcycle (WMP) Program says that there could be thousands still out there at risk and unlicensed.

WMP’s research into why the numbers are so high suggests that some motorcyclists, who have been riding for years without a license, could be embarrassed to take a basic safety course with younger classmates who are beginner riders.

Many middle-age men are getting back into the sport after decades of being off a bike, and they don’t feel the need to update their riding skills or take tests About eight out of ten Wisconsin residents with a motorcycle endorsement are men, so male pride could have something to do with not taking a safety course suggests the WMP.

“If someone has been riding 20 years, and they’ve logged a lot of miles but still don’t have their motorcycle endorsement, the likelihood of them wanting to take a basic rider’s safety course is low. They aren’t going to want to do it,” said Patzer.

So rather than embarrass yourself by learning how to ride a motorcycle the better option is to take the risk and ride without a license and potentially kill yourself?

Underlying NHTSA’s May safety campaign are statistics that demonstrate that helmet use is on the decline in the U.S. with 66 per cent of wearers in 2011 to 60 percent in 2012 with the biggest decrease amongst motorcycle passengers (64 per cent in 2011 dropping to 46 per cent in 2012). NHTSA claims that 701 lives could have been saved in 2011 if a rider had been wearing a helmet. It’s hard to get the facts behind these numbers, such as the nature of the accident and other contributing factors, so I will Have to take NHTSA’S word for it.

Over in the other camp, of the ‘other road users’, NHTSA is urging them to give motorcycles more space, signal when changing lanes, check your mirrors and allow more following distance behind a bike – three to four seconds is what it recommends. Car and truck drivers, it says, should also not drive impaired or distracted. There is no specific mention of the bane of most motorcyclist’s life – a car driver using a cell ‘phone or texting. Don’t forget this is not a year long campaign, Motorcycle Safety Awareness only runs for the month of May and then everything, I assume, returns to normal.

My point is this. As I said at the outset while NHTSA’s intentions for May are laudable for turning the spotlight on to motorcyclists, I feel it’s missing the point. Wouldn’t the month’s campaign money be far better spent on offering all new and returning riders free training courses across the U.S. so we don’t have a repetition of 2011 where nearly a quarter of all U.S. motorcycle deaths involved unlicensed riders?

  • William Connor

    Yes, yes, and yes. I run a Motorcycle Mentorship Program for military personnel with the topic of rider training as a major focus, I also give sessions that talk about distracted driving to car drivers. Why only train the rider when I can also reach out to the drivers. For me this campaign is focused more in May but is a 365 day a year part of my job. The military community as a whole is already ahead of last years accident rates. Fiscal year 2012 was their highest death toll ever and we are on pace this fiscal year to smash that number. Somehow the rider course needs to become a badge of honor, rather than an embarrassment, to show a greater level of proficiency, and something to be proud of. That can only happen within the rider community, not from outside forces.

    • Kyle

      I disagree, and I say that as a military rider too. For one, there are so many “ghost riders” in the military: ie, folks who don’t tell their chain of command that they have an endorsement or own a bike just because they don’t want the hassle of the BRC, ERC, and inspections.

      I think they way to implement this is extortion through insurance rates. Increase the fine for riding without an endorsement or insurance and increase the insurance rate for riding without the MSF course or equivalent. Riders will start to see it as just another cost of riding, like state inspections or oil.

      • William Connor

        I would rather police this ourselves than be extorted by an insurance company. I can’t believe that would be offered as a solution. I don’t want to limit the hobby by exorbitant costs, it’s already expensive enough. Besides in some states the courses are free, so talk about an unfair cost differentiation. Most insurance companies offer a discount for training courses.

        • Kyle

          Limit the hobby by exorbitant costs? The cost of the class would pay for itself within a year. Those of us with all our certs would have no change or even a lower rate. I know I currently get a discount from my insurance provider because of it. Meanwhile the untrained riders would just get some fiscal encouragement to get with the program.

      • MrDefo

        “I think they way to implement this is extortion through insurance rates. Increase the fine for riding without an endorsement or insurance and increase the insurance rate for riding without the MSF course or equivalent.”
        Generally speaking it’s already illegal to operate a motorcycle without an endorsement on public roads. So is the insurance company supposed to check that you’ve actually got your endorsement? And if you don’t, and they report you to the authorities, are they expected to hike your rates on top of that?
        If I buy a motorcycle for say, my kid so that they can practice before getting their endorsement, do I pay out the nose for the insurance because the primary rider doesn’t have their endorsement? This just makes the whole thing complicated.

        • Kyle

          I don’t know what state you live in, but that order doesn’t make sense to me.

          I guess I see insurance as something that is most practically functional when it starts from a base high-risk rate and is then discounted downward for certified training and safe behaviors over time. That’s just positive reinforcement. A competent person can go from never-ridden to functional from just the MSF course; it happens every weekend. I’d say put your kid in the class first or stick with dirtbikes for a while.

    • notfishing

      I can see this being a tough job, especially with Marines. They are to used to taking risks and dealing with the consequences later. The combat/assault training the military gets tends to eliminate the fear that a civilian has.

      • William Connor

        Yes and no. The military trains you how to take risks through proper planning and execution. There are a lot of levels of risk management involved.

    • Nemosufu Namecheck

      The motorcycle mentorship program makes it very difficult to be a motorcyclist. In fact, I would say it is one of the most difficult hobbies you can do in the military. For those readers who are not familiar with the requirements – here is what you need to do to ride:
      – Initial commander screening: you have to meet with your commander for a motorcycle briefing, and you can be denied riding privileges
      – Enroll in motorcycle safety database: this used to be fairly straight forward. This year they wanted to know your entire riding history to include every bike I have ever owned.
      – Completion of basic rider course: Not only do you need to have completed it, but you need to carry the card for the rest of your career, usually paid for
      – Safety gear requirement: Boots, gloves, reflective garment, helmet, long sleeve clothing. Interpretation varies by installation and service
      – Yearly safety briefing: If you do not attend yearly brief, you cannot ride
      – Advanced rider course after a year or two, usually paid for
      – All activities need to be re-accomplished at every location. Most military members transfer every two to three years.

      I would say that the rider course is not an embarrassment, but a lot of guys have skirted taking the course for sure.

      But lets not concentrate on the military. When I was learning to ride I was the only one out of eight of us that rode together that had taken the course. We all had 600cc motorcycles or larger with helmets being our only gear. It was great. Most guys I met didn’t even have a motorcycle endorsement either. What was odd is that we got pulled over all the time and my friends just got warned to go register for the license. Here are the states in which I made that observation:

      – California
      – Colorado
      – Wyoming

      Hey, if nobody is enforcing it why would an 18 year old even bother?

  • E Brown

    In my opinion, the lack of licensing flows from one of the biggest impediments to motorcycle safety – the fatalist attitude of many riders. They assume crashing – with possible injury or death – is inevitable, so wtf? Why get a license? Why wear safety gear? Why take a safety course? The worst lambasting I ever got on the internet was on a motorcycle forum, for saying it’s possible to make riding safer.

    • William Connor

      Some people equate safer with making bikes cars. When it usually means wearing gear, learning proper technique and paying attention to basic maintenance.

    • MrDefo

      I had a conversation with a co-worker who rides about safety gear, and he told me to my face that any crash over 30 MPH was a guaranteed death warrant, so he didn’t feel the need to wear gear. I was shocked that someone would feel this way. One of those moments that made me question why I associate with them.

      • sixgunsteve

        Is his wife hot?

        • MrDefo

          She’s ok. So no, there’s not a lot of point in pulling a King David.

  • Jeff Baysinger

    I first took the MSF’s basic rider course in 2001, then not a requirement to obtain a motorcycle endorsement in the state of Colorado but something I thought would be a good idea. In addition to teaching students how to ride, they offered great classroom sessions which focused on how to survive street riding – things like traffic management, kill zones, reading traffic patterns, anticipating hazards, that kind of thing. After moving to Texas, due to a clerical error, my M endorsement didn’t follow me. The MSF course is now a requirement in Texas to obtain your endorsement so I had to take it again. While there were a number of things I would rather have done that weekend, I ponied up last June and took the course again in the name of legality. Whoa, have things changed! All that good “stay alive” material is gone. They teach you how to use the clutch and keep the bike upright then throw you to the Tahoe driving cell phone wielding soccer moms. Now I’m not saying that the course isn’t worth it, at least you get comfortable with the machine and get a stamp on your license, but it used to be a lot better. It really makes me fearful for new riders, especially in this heavily congested and aggressive region. Further education is a must, there are plenty of great books out there which can help to teach these skills.

    • TenorMadness

      I’m sorry to hear that. I took my course up in Washington State this past August, and they were still reserving ~50% of the 2.5 days for the classroom covering those preparation and survival skills.

    • TechGuy5489

      I took the MSF course in the same area last summer…probably with the same company (I won’t say which but I believe they’re the only one in the area). Maybe because I’m a new rider I thought the class was as reasonable as can be expected and I’m not sure what sort of “stay alive” material you’re talking about. I thought the ten hours/two days of classroom time did a pretty reasonable job of covering street basics and my instructor made it a point to tell everyone at the end that taking the course didn’t mean we were safe/qualified/ready for the street but only that we were at a point where we could get started…slowly.

      • Piglet2010

        Our BRC instructor told us that we were qualified to ride a 250 in a parking lot.

        • Aaron Baumann

          Good news! I’ve got a CBR250 and ride in the bay area so that pretty much describes my commute!

    • John Martinez

      took the MSF basic class here in VA this year and six years ago in TX. The class instruction and ride instruction was a lot weaker here in VA. One student completed the class despite being excessively late and getting coaching on the final. Oh and dropped the bike several times. No idea how he passed. But because he did, he was awarded his 30 day license and cert to get his endorsement. VA only requires passing the class to get the endorsement.
      I guess the MSF providers run a business, but I felt they endangered the student by teaching only to the exam and letting his skills demonstration slide. Hopefully the student in question takes the time to practice. I practice on the community college range and have lots of room to improve, so no one is perfect. However, I am not one to promote the nanny state. I am responsible for myself and my loved ones and our safety. I don’t expect nor want anyone to protect me from myself. I just hope my experience was unique and that the quality of instruction elsewhere is much better. In my opinion, licensing is only as valuable as the paper/plastic it’s written on.

      • Piglet2010

        “I practice on the community college range…”

        The security at our local communist college runs you off if you try that.

        • sixgunsteve

          Probably a liability issue. OR they’re just asshats with nothing better to do.

    • Jacky Speck

      I actually felt the opposite way after taking the PA safety course as a new rider a couple of years ago, in 2011 or 2012. I thought the course did a really good job of teaching road safety and traffic management, but didn’t spend nearly enough time on riding technique. There were a number of people who passed the course with me who really, really did not belong on the road yet. I actually didn’t feel quite ready myself, and spent a lot of time practicing in parking lots immediately after I bought my first bike because of it.

  • Waldo Lost

    License less riders will remain without a license and helmet less riders will NOT wear a free helmet. Just let darwin do its thing!

    • dreygata

      I disagree. There isn’t a road course required in Alabama, so one must pay the full cost of the full cost of the course to take it. $200ish dollars is a decent chunk of change for some, and they would rather spend it on gear (or whatever) rather than the course. Make the course free, and all of a sudden they can take the course AND get whatever else they want. Free (with no asterisks) is a fantastic motivator. And realistically, you will get a lot of people who were on the fence about riding. You basically have a free course where you can get a taste in a safe and controlled environment. Will you still have those that refuse? Of course. But I feel like those are a minority.

      • Ayabe

        Free is never free, who is going to pay for that? Someone has to pay for the equipment, the instructors, the classroom space, the materials, the parking lot(maybe). Should taxes be raised?

        The price is no excuse, if you don’t have $200 then don’t get a bike, it’s simple. Pays for itself in the discount on insurance premiums.

        • TechGuy5489

          Triumph is running and has been running for some time a promotion that’ll pay up to 200 bucks for taking a new rider course when you purchase one of their new motorcycles.

          I agree. If you can’t afford the 200 bucks to take the class then you can’t afford riding. You can’t afford a decent helmet. You can’t afford decent gear. You can’t afford proper insurance. You can’t afford riding.

          • dreygata

            I disagree. yWhen I first got a bike, I didn’t know anything. I got the gear I could afford. The only reason I was able to take training was because it was required to take a bike on the military base at the time. As such, it was free. Had it cost money, I doubt I would have ever taken it. Now that I’m past the starving college years, I’ve gotten better gear, and improved my skills. I can imagine there are plenty of people who get into riding with what they can afford not knowing the costs of quality gear and courses. If a free, sponsored course, even for a single month, helps those people out, I’m all for it. Riding shouldn’t be relegated Only to those who can afford mid to high end gear.

  • KC

    “almost one in four riders involved in fatal accident did not have a valid license.” That’s not a surprise since it’s not usually required to purchase, insure, and register/plate a motorcycle. A motorcycle permit or drivers license may do. I can’t speak for all states but I don’t remember any problems getting a motorcycle with just a permit.

    I’ve had a motorcycle endorsement on my license for years. The test wasn’t hard. I doubt it’s changed over the years.

    • eddi

      Some states, Oregon in my case, now require you to pass the BRC riding course to get an endorsement. You can start with a learner permit and have someone ride along as a passenger or on a separate bike. But the Team Oregon course is the best bet. A weekend of class and riding finishing with the written and riding test right there. If you make it, the DMV gives you a written test on general knowledge and if you make it, give you a new license with the endorsement. I got grandfathered in. But then again, I got grandfathered when endorsements first became mandatory.

    • Piglet2010

      In most states there are no licensing requirements to own and title a vehicle. In Illinois we used to have a van with a wheel-chair lift titled in the name of a relative who had a stroke (and could not drive), as that made getting the handicapped plates simpler.

  • robot

    I wonder if some of these statistics are not derived from places like Las Vegas, which for some reason allows under 49cc scooters to ride freely with traffic, and they are unlicensed both rider and machine, uninsured, seldom wearing helmets. I know of 2 incidents in 2014 killed 3 one a truck took out 2 sitting at a light, and many more in years past. Personally I would like to know how to get these scooters off the road, or make it the same as a motorcycle which would thin the herd out probably 90 percent, and help drop the mortality rate of “motorcycles”.

    • Blake Bryce

      I live in S.C. where i would say at the least 75% of moped riders are people who have had their license revoked for whatever reason. Mopeds under 49cc have no tag, no insurance, and require no license. They are trying to make having mandatory liability insurance a law right now, but they have grouped mopeds with bicycles, so there is a lot of backlash from the cycling community. There is a moped related death nearly every week in the local paper.

      • Piglet2010

        Here in Iowa you can ride a moped with just a cage license, but one can get a moped only license – a training course is only required for 14 and 15-year old riders. To be street legal, a moped must have a manufacturer’s certification label in compliance with 49 CFR 567 and be licensed and titled.

      • sixgunsteve

        Used to be the same here in Virginia; lose your license? Get a moped. Rules are changing on 1 July, though. Among other things, the new rules will require:
        * It is illegal to drive a moped if your license is suspended or revoked for convictions of DUI, underage consumption of alcohol, refusing a blood/breath test, or driving while suspended/revoked for a DUI-related offense.
        * If your driving privilege is suspended or revoked due to a DUI-related conviction, you must be in full compliance with all requirements imposed by DMV and the court before operating a moped.
        * Virginia law requires mopeds operated on Virginia roadways to be titled and registered by July 1, 2014.

        All the rule changes can be read here (recommended especially you have kids that: have a moped): http://www.dmv.state.va.us/vehicles/#moped.html

  • Slacker

    Interesting point of conversation… Just passed my certification to be a RiderCoach this past weekend. One of the other guys taking the RCP with me said that his wife does not want to take a course in Colorado because they had just moved from Pennsylvania where the state waived the fees to take the course… Here in Colorado it’s a pretty antagonistic state of affairs between motorcyclists and the state. Rider Education lacks publication, funding and outreach. Individuals can only do so much to help educate the few.

  • eddi

    Basic Rider Courses seem to help motorcyclists. I know it’s an impossible dream, but couldn’t NHTSA extend that to a Basic Driver Course? At least show new drivers how to steer and brake. Simulators just don’t do it. Passing a mandatory course at least means the driver has been lectured about how not to be a complete tool on the road. Given human nature, that’s about all that can be done.

  • http://www.mypenneedsink.com MyPenNeedsInk

    Agree 100% I was one of those middle aged guys getting back into riding about 14 years ago. I chose to take the safety course to avoid the test and get an insurance discount. I figured I would breeze through the weekend class but what I found is I really learned a lot. A couple of years later I rented a bike on a trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway. After picking up the bike I was being pressured by heavy traffic tailing me close behind. I foolishly entered a turn too hot and I was reaching panic until I recalled my MSF training that taught me to push down on the handlebar grip on the side you want to turn. I did that at the last minute and it may have looked goofy but that big Goldwing did exactly what I needed it to do and saved my can. I quickly pulled off the road, checked my shorts and let all the tailgaters by then went and enjoyed the rest of my trip.

  • Fava d’Aronne

    The solution would be really simple: the police finds you riding with no licence? They impound your motorcycle and give you a fine. A second time? You go to jail. Very, very simple.

    • notfishing

      To bad they don’t do that with car drivers.

      • eddi

        In Oregon they do. No license, or no insurance? Start walking. And you don’t get your vehicle back easily.

      • Fava d’Aronne

        Them too, no distinction. We were talking about motorcycles, though.

  • notfishing

    A little history, the NHTSA has been a Bureaucratic Nanny State organization since 1970 with the help from the Ralph Nader group. It is the politically minded “makes us all safe” government agency that brought us the 5 mph bumper. This agency had an annual budget of $815 million in 2007.

    One should not confuse this self perpetuating ever restricting Bureaucracy with intelligent safety regulation.

  • RyYYZ

    Good luck getting other road users to use their turn signals or otherwise follow the rules of the road. Everyone knows that speeding may get you a ticket, but the chances of getting a ticket for almost any other sort of moving violation (unless you’re a visible minority and are being profiled) are pretty small. And the people we pay to enforce the laws are often just as bad. I don’t know how many cops I’ve been riding or driving behind and observed multiple lane changes and turns with no turn signals, among various other moving violations. Let’s face it, the US and Canada have basically given up on actually improving the quality of drivers on our roads. A drivers license is pretty much seen as a right, and the standards to get one (never mind to keep one) are depressingly low. The only things we really enforce with any consistency are the speed limits and DUI laws. We seem to consider the level of accidents on our roads to be essentially unfixable.

  • Jacky Speck

    In PA, a very easy written test gets you a permit, which allows you to ride on any public road as long as it’s daylight. I really wish it were mandatory to physically demonstrate that you can safely operate a motorcycle before getting a permit.

  • Clint Roberts

    I got my motorcycle license about 17 years ago before a MSF course was required. I borrowed a friends bike and just always renewed. Had a bike in the Caribbean for about 2 year…just a 250cc Supermoto. Since moving back I got a Cb1000r. I also got for my dad a Honda Grom just to ride around his large house/driveway…but before I gave it to him I taught my 18 and 15 year old to ride and shift. Mostly at the local high school parking lot. My wife rode me bike in the Caribbean…and she can ride my Cb1000r…says it’s easier than the wr250x. But she does not have her license. I would like to see reduced rates for the MSF. Or even better, let’s do a learner permit like parent taught drivers ed. Simply have an online course and require hours on a 250cc or less bike with other licensed motorcycle rider nearby with communication. I had my kids wear the Sena bluetooth headsets and talked them through everything. While following them around.

    • DiHydro

      In Wisconsin, there is a learners permit after one takes the written portion of the endorsement test. These are the conditions for it:
      “Some restrictions apply during the period the instruction permit is held:
      Must wear eye protection
      Must wear an approved helmet
      Permit holders may ride alone during the day.
      If cycling after dark, the permit holder must be accompanied by a person at least 25 years old with two years licensed driving experience and a Class M motorcycle license.”

  • Dave

    What if we were to call it “training” instead of “safety class”…? I would guess that the idea of training would be better received than a “class”.

    I am hypothesizing that: this demographic would say “I don’t need safety class – are you kidding me?” However they might be persuaded “We train for our sports, we train for our jobs, we train our military, police, and fire rescue – maybe I can buy-in on training for my hobby.”

    • Piglet2010

      Most motorcycle riders need training, but very few think they need it, and even fewer will pay for it.

  • Scheffy

    Tim, one point I think that needs to be clarified is whether “unlicensed” means someone with absolutely no (legal) riding qualifications, or whether it simply means somebody that renews their permit yearly but just never bothers to take the DMV riding test or a BRC. I’ve known a few people who I consider competent riders that have been riding permit-only for years, and while it’s completely legal I would think technically they’d still be classified as unlicensed. Granted, anyone in that category still hasn’t had (or passed) any formal DOT-level riding training, but the fact that they at least passed the initial written test shows a little more seriousness toward the subject than Jim-Bob McHilljack who got his license suspended a few DUIs ago but still runs his grandpappy’s Hurrrrley with the bailer-twine final drive to the bar every other night.
    And no, I’m not condoning that practice, I don’t understand their logic, and I think everyone should get formal training. Anyone in a cost-free BRC state like PA especially have no excuse.

    • Tim Watson

      That’s a great point and not one that the NHTSA numbers actually show. It might present a different picture but even so one in four deaths in 2011 was unlicensed 9permit or not) is still way to many.

  • Stephen Ellice

    Be careful what you wish for – as you may end up saddled with the over the top bureaucratic expensive nightmare that is the UK motorcycle test, you are lucky to have such freedom where the responsibility is on the rider not imposed by the govenment

  • Correcting Jeff

    One thing that helps: tailored MSF courses.

    When the GF took her class here in VA, it was offered ladies only. No icky boys to stress out the womenfolk. She loved it, and aced it.

    Companies should offer the same for older riders, so you don’t get to be the 40, 50 year old guy stuck with the 20 year old kids.

  • zion

    Part of the issue is the irresponsibility of the individual states. Dependent on if the state subsidizes the training, the MSF course costs vary greatly.. Some states donate a good amount to the programs, some don’t. Which is why in states like PA, you can take a course for almost nothing if not free. In SC, where I reside, there is no funding at all. In turn we have to charge $239 for a basic course. Get the states on the same page (or the Feds) and make courses more accessible, if not mandatory.

  • ThruTheDunes

    Here in Mass., the skills test at the end of the class is the road test, so one does not need to do the kabuki dance at the Registry. There is also a 10% discount on insurance. These benefits help justify the unsubsidized cost of the class.

    To Tim’s question of whether the money NHTSA spends on publicity for the annual May motorcycle month stuff would be better spent paying for MSF classes to get licenses for the scofflaws, I agree with Zion that this is a state issue (enforcing licencing laws). Mass. has a PR program for motorcycles, I see the signs all over the place. If a similar campaign by the feds complements it, all the better for raising awareness. Don’t gut that effort to pay states to do what they are already supposed to be doing.

  • Piglet2010

    Here in Iowa the fine is $182 for not having a motorcycle endorsement, plus it counts as a moving violation so your insurance company can increase your rates. So the MSF BRC is less expensive than any traffic stop (including things such as DUI check-points) without a proper license.

    I have found the worst (best?) source of misinformation about licensing requirement to be salespersons at dealerships.

  • Tex Judd

    The agenda of the topic is in the right place, but whether or not a rider has a license is not directly related to them being involved in an accident. Its simply coincidental. If you looked at the statistics and the popularity of motorcycles as well as growth in population for the same areas study between the time frames used in this article, you would see its not as MIND BLOWING as the writer might like you to think. An experienced rider, licensed or not is no more likely to be involved in an accident with or without the endorsement. A novice rider however would be a little more likely since he may not even have read the handbook.

  • atomicalex

    I took a BRC for giggles in April. It was freezing cold. Whatever. People asked me about it, as I’ve got plenty of training and miles in. I said “$25 to go screw around on someone else’s bike for a day? I’m in!” In MI the courses are subsidized by motorcycle registrations, so if you pay for a plate, why not take a cheap class? You get 8 hours or so or coached parking lot drills. It’s fun, actually.

  • Branden

    I definitely rode without a license for a year or so… but I was just a dumb 20 year old. I took the msf and got my license eventually. However, I didn’t really feel like my rider skill or knowledge increased after taking it. For some people who have literally no experience on a bike it’s a good course but I felt like I personally didn’t learn much. I guess you can’t expect to know all the ins and outs of riding in a weekend of parking lot circles. It’s nice to be legal though haha

  • Tom Byrne

    Could be that rusty and new (often unlicensed) riders feel compelled to ride a litre bike with well over 100 HP or a cruiser that weighs more than 600lbs and handles like a musk ox. I have found that sporting middle weights with power in the 40 – 80 horsepower range make for a nice daily rider that most riders won’t out grow. I have several middle weights and a GSX750F Katana and they keep me quite satisfied.