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TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Nicholas J. Sacco which establishes safety guidelines for new motorcycle riders in order to improve rider safety in the Garden State was signed into law by Governor Christie yesterday.
“As motorcycles continue to grow in popularity, more and more people are getting into accidents involving motorcycles on our roadways,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “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. 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.”
The bill, S-736, enacts several motorcycle safety regulations. Under the bill, if a person is issued a motorcycle license for a vehicle with a smaller-size engine – less than 231 cubic centimeters – they are legally prohibited from operating a motorcycle with an engine displacement of more than 500 cc. Senator Sacco said that this provision ensures that new motorcycle riders are restricted from operating vehicles with engines that are too powerful for that driver’s skill level.
“There’s a big difference between operating a suped-up sport bike, and riding a Vespa scooter,” said Senator Sacco. “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.”
The bill also creates a new category of low-speed motorcycles to address the increased use of small motorcycles, and prohibits low-speed motorcycles from being operated on limited-access interstate highways of public roads with speed limits in excess of 35 miles per hour.
The bill allows the Chief Administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to waive requirements for a motorcycle license or endorsement for holders of an examination permit if that holder completes a recognized motorcycle safety education course. The bill also requires all applicants under the age of 18 to complete a motorcycle safety program as a condition for licensure or endorsement. Finally the bill clarifies the times, roadways and conditions on which holders of an exam permit may practice. The bill prohibits permit holders from operating a motorcycle in the dark, carrying passengers and operating a motorcycle on the State’s toll roads or limited access highways.
“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,” said Senator Sacco. “Motorcycle riders who ignore property safety precautions and flaunt the rules of the road are a danger to themselves and others. At the end of the day, this bill ensures that people follow common sense before they put themselves and others in harm’s way.”
The bill received final legislative approval from the Senate last month.
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"When you're asked to cast a vote on a bill and it seems innocuous, and it's got a hidden land mine that perhaps only an expert would see, it would sort of behoove those experts to tell us in advance rather than make us look, shall we say, a little bit indecisive later on." - Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-25).- NJTV
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