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P.O. Box 160
Trenton, NJ
Contact: Mike Horan
Cathleen Lewis
Kevin Cranston
609-292-5203
RELEASE: April 29, 2008

 

MVC Chief Calls on Motorists to Be Alert
Harrington kicks off New Jersey Motorcycle Awareness Month

(LAWRENCE TWP.) – Stressing the need for all motorists to safely and responsibly share the road, Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) Chief Administrator Sharon A. Harrington today kicked off May as New Jersey Motorcycle Awareness Month. Harrington plans to spend the month bringing greater attention to the safety of motorcycle riders as they travel the state’s roadways. May was designated as the official month for motorcycle safety through legislation sponsored in 2007 by State Senator Fred H. Madden.

Joined by New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety (DHTS) Director Pam Fischer and American Motorcyclist Association District II Chairman Butch DellaPietro, Harrington unveiled plans for a monthlong “Be Alert. Watch for Motorcycles” campaign aimed at increasing public awareness of how to avoid accidents with motorcycle riders. The campaign is funded through a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) federal grant obtained through the DHTS.

“With more than 80 motorcycle-related deaths last year, it is crucial that we keep up our efforts to bring attention to our state’s riders,” said Harrington. “While the MVC strives to enhance the areas of safety, security and service, the most important tool we all have at our disposal is personal responsibility. Each of us, whether on a motorcycle or in a car, must safely share the road.”

The MVC’s public awareness efforts include the use of signs on 300 buses traveling New Jersey’s major highways, Shadow Traffic radio messages, movie theater ads and toll booth signs all touting the “Be Alert” message. Each will serve as a reminder to the state’s motorists that they should constantly be aware of motorcycle riders when behind the wheel.

“Throughout the month of May, we reinforce the importance of drivers and motorcyclists recognizing that they must share the roads,” said Madden, D-Camden and Gloucester, who serves as Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. “These extra precautions taken by motorcyclists and other motorists will help make our roadways safer for everyone. As the weather gets warmer, motorcycles become the vehicle of choice for many New Jersey motorists. It is important for drivers of larger vehicles to be more aware of motorcycles during the summer months; the extra precautions could save lives.”

During the event, Harrington and Fischer also took the time to bring attention to the need for riders to take steps to ensure that they are well prepared to operate a motorcycle.

According to Fischer, “Many motorists are looking for more economical transportation and often purchase a motorcycle. They must understand, though, that a motorcycle is not a car, and it handles much differently.

“All riders must be properly educated in the safe operation of a motorcycle before taking to the roads,” Fischer added. “It’s not only in their best interest, but ensures the safety of all who use our roadways. The program that is being unveiled today will help to increase awareness of this shared responsibility.”

To help prepare new and long-time motorcycle riders, Harrington highlighted the MVC’s successful Motorcycle Safety Education Program. The training program, which trains approximately 8,000 participants annually, offers riders two routes to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for safe riding. The Basic Rider Course (BRC) is intended for new riders or those who have taken an extended break from riding. The BRC teaches riders basic maneuvers and 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 Motorcycle Safety Education Program courses at locations in Sea Girt (Monmouth County) and in Egg Harbor Township (Atlantic County) at the Anthony Canale Training Center. The MVC also has agreements with several private providers throughout the state that offer certified courses.

To provide customers with instant access to the Motorcycle Safety Education Program, the MVC launched a Web site dedicated specifically to motorcycles. At www.njridesafe.org, visitors can obtain information about courses, testing requirements and tips for a safer ride, including riding sober. The Web site, which gets nearly 1,000 hits per week during motorcycle season, was recently recognized by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) with an award for public affairs and consumer education.
 
“With more than 300,000 licensed motorcycles riders in the State of New Jersey, we all have to do our part to keep the roads safe,” noted Harrington. “As drivers, we need to be mindful and take that extra look before turning or changing lanes, and as riders, we need to don the proper gear, especially a helmet, and follow the rules of the road.”