MAY 24th, 2011

Proposed military motorcycle plates are unveiled to an enthusiastic crowd

At a Capitol news conference today to kick off May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reaffirmed that the best way motorcyclists can stay safe on the road is to get trained and licensed, wear the proper gear and share the road.

“Operating a motorcycle is a responsibility that requires putting safety first,” said Johnson, who has ridden for years and drove a Harley-Davidson motorcycle to the news conference. “Even experienced riders can benefit from a motorcycle safety course.”

Johnson, who obtained her first motorcycle endorsement as a teenager, is believed to be one of the first women in Oakland County and the state to get endorsed. A motorcycle endorsement on a driver’s license is required by law to ride on public roads.

Flanked by lawmakers and safety advocates at the podium, Johnson also announced her strong support for legislation creating new military motorcycle license plates for veterans under consideration.

“I would like to thank the legislature for its support of these new military motorcycle plates and encourage the passage of the bills without delay,” Johnson said. “These plates honor those who have valiantly served our country and allow them to display their service with pride.”

Johnson recognized the bills’ sponsors, Rep. Matt Huuki, R-Atlantic Mine, and Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, for their hard work. Artwork showing the plates with the emblems of the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, National Guard and Air Force was on display.

Also speaking at the news conference were Mike L. Prince, Office of Highway Safety Planning director; Rep. Deb Shaughnessy, R-Charlotte; Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba; Lt. Col. Jerome Hurtgen and 1st Lt. Ryan Lundquist from the Army National Guard in Grand Ledge; and Jim Rhoades, legislative director for ABATE of Michigan.

Mike Prince, Office of Highway Safety Planning director, said “thank you for supporting motorcycle safety awareness month and for being a rider, yourself. You walk the talk.”

Jim Rhoades and Vince Consiglio were honored, along with all of ABATE, for promoting motorcycle safety and training. Rhoades, as are several ABATE members, is a trained Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider Coach. ABATE president Vince Consiglio is a Rider Coach trainer, responsible for training other Rider Coaches.

In addition, the U.S. military has made motorcycle safety a priority by requiring its members who ride to complete a motorcycle safety course. Johnson concluded the news conference by recognizing Hurtgen and Lundquist with a plaque honoring the military’s efforts to promote motorcycle safety.

The two BRP Can-Am Spyder motorcycles exhibited at the news conference gave viewers a sense of how innovation and technology are making motorcycling safer. The Spyders have two wheels in the front and one in the back, anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control systems for better maneuverability and balance.

Technological advances and materials are making motorcycles stronger, lighter, more dependable and safer, too. Innovations such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, and stability and traction control systems are being offered with increasing regularity.

Improved safety features are not limited to just machinery. Premium helmets are reinforced with Kevlar and carbon fiber to make them stronger. Jackets with airbags, riding suits with protective “armor” for wrists, knees, shoulders, elbows and other areas, and boots formatted especially for each type of riding are available on today’s market.

Motorcycling continues to grow in popularity across the state. Since 2007, the number of endorsed riders has jumped almost 50,000, to 553,000.

According to Prince, it is important for riders to get properly trained and endorsed and to not ride beyond their skills.

“Providing Michigan riders with basic and advanced motorcycle training opportunities is essential to safe riding and preventing crashes,” Prince said. “Wearing full protective gear is also critical to mitigating injuries and increasing a rider’s odds of surviving a motorcycle crash.”

Riders must successfully complete a knowledge test and a safety course or a skills test with a third-party tester before an endorsement is issued. A safety course is required for 16- and 17-year-olds as well as for adults who fail the skills test twice.

The Department of State administers Michigan’s Motorcycle Safety Program. It oversees a network of 29 public and private training programs. More than 87,000 students have attended training since 2004. Visit for a list of motorcycle safety training programs or for more information about safe motorcycling.

Information about motorcycle safety training programs and other department services is available on the department website ( or through the official Secretary of State Twitter feed ( and Facebook updates (