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P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ
Contact: Mike Horan
Kevin Cranston
609-292-5203
RELEASE: May 30, 2007

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MVC Kicks Off NJ Motorcycle Safety Month
Harrington Highlights Public Awareness Efforts and Rider Safety Courses

(SEA GIRT) – Bringing much-needed attention to thousands of motorcycle riders traveling New Jersey roadways, Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chief Administrator Sharon A. Harrington today kicked off a statewide motorcycle safety awareness campaign to recognize June as New Jersey Motorcycle Safety Month and highlight the organization’s Motorcycle Safety Education Program.

Joined by representatives of the AAA at Sea Girt National Guard Armory Training Center, one of the sites where the MVC offers motorcycle rider courses, Harrington unveiled plans for a month-long campaign aimed at increasing public awareness of how to avoid accidents with motorcyclists. The campaign is funded through a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) federal grant obtained through the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (DHTS).

“The MVC is fully committed to keeping all of the state’s motorists as safe as possible when they are out on the road,” Harrington said. “Every day, thousands of motorcycle riders share the road with other motorists. We not only want to ensure that these riders are well-prepared to handle their bikes, but we also want to urge the public to be conscious of motorcycles when traveling the roadways.”      

The public awareness efforts will include the use of billboards, PSA sponsorships of Shadow Traffic Reports and toll booth signs touting the message “Be Alert. Watch for Motorcycles.” In total, 10 billboards, 20 announcer-read radio spots and approximately 240 toll booth signs will serve as a reminder to the state’s motorists that they should constantly be aware of motorcycle riders when on the road.

According to Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer, “Baby boomers, as well as commuters looking for economical transportation, are helping drive the upswing in the number of motorcycle riders on our roadways. With that in mind, it is imperative that we step up our efforts to educate all motorists about how to safely share the road with each other.”

Harrington also highlighted the MVC’s highly successful Motorcycle Safety Education Program, which provides motorcycle riders with the skills and knowledge necessary for safe riding through basic and experienced rider courses. The Basic Rider Course (BRC) is intended for new riders or those who have taken an extended break from riding. Through the BRC, riders are taught basic maneuvers and learn how to safely operate a motorcycle. Upon completion of the course, participants are granted a motorcycle license or endorsement. The Experienced Rider Course (ERC) is designed for those who already have a grasp of operating a motorcycle, but want to sharpen their skills. Riders who complete the ERC will have two points removed from their driving record. The MVC offers the courses in Sea Girt and in Egg Harbor Township at the Anthony Canale Training Center. The MVC also has agreements with several private providers throughout the state to offer the courses.

“What's clear is that public information and safety campaigns like this play a significant traffic safety role,” AAA Clubs of NJ spokeswoman Tracy Noble said. “Ridership is up. Warmer weather brings out all the bikes. The roads are crowded. It's important this month and throughout the year to remain aware on the roads. This campaign, and the MVC's training course, helps riders and motorists to do just that.”

To provide customers with instant access to the Motorcycle Safety Education Program, the MVC is also in the process of rolling out a Web site – www.njridesafe.org – dedicated to the program. The Web site will include everything from licensing and registration information to safety tips to details on rider training and testing.   
 
According to the latest statistics, the total number of motorcycle fatalities nationally has steadily risen since 1997, while the total number of injuries has increased since 1998. In New Jersey alone, from 2001 to 2005, 324 people were killed in motorcycle accidents. In addition, more than half of all accidents between passenger vehicles and motorcycles occur at intersections, while more than two-thirds occur when the driver does not see the motorcycle.

“The statistics speak for themselves. There are far too many accidents and fatalities occurring between passenger vehicles and motorcycles,” Harrington added. “With this campaign, we hope to get the message out to drivers that they need to responsibly share the road and be mindful of motorcycle riders.