New Jersey gets serious about motorcycle safety

There’s a host of motorcycle safety laws that’ve been rolled out nationwide recently. Oregon is mandating MSF-style training for all new riders by 2015, California now requires under 21s to complete an MSF class and Utah only allows you to operate a motorcycle as large as the one you test on. Now New Jersey is defining license tiers based on engine capacity and creating a new classification for small-capacity bikes too.

“There’s a big difference between operating a suped-up sport bike, and riding a Vespa scooter,” New Jersey state senator Nicholas Sacco told Politicker NJ. “If you learn how to ride on a small-engine bike, that doesn’t necessarily qualify you to safely operate a much larger vehicle. This bill would take a proactive approach to discourage riders from riding above their skill-level, rather than waiting for tragedy to strike.”

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Bill S-736, which was signed into law January 28, creates two motorcycle license tiers. If you pass your test on a bike 231cc or smaller, you can only ride a bike up to 500cc. Pass it on a larger bike and you can ride anything. That might not sound like much, but by varying the cost and difficulty of the two tests, New Jersey will be able to effectually steer new riders towards the lower capacity.

“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 reports that motorcycles accidents account for 70 or more fatalities and nearly 2,000 injuries each year,” continues senator Sacco. “We have to recognize the facts, and do all we can to make sure that operating a motorcycle is as safe as possible in the Garden State.”

Additionally, the bill mandates completion of a recognized motorcycle safety course for license applicants under the age of 18.

Bikes under 50cc or making only 1.5bhp are separated into a new category that restricts them to 35mph and makes them accessible to people holding a car license.

“Riding a motorcycle can be a great experience, but we want to make sure it’s also a safe experience, not only for the riders but for everyone else on the road,” concluded senator Sacco.

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