A bill aimed at increasing the safety of motorcycle riders passed in the state House Wednesday and is on its way to the Senate.
Sponsored by Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, the bill passed 181-1. All representatives from York County voted in favor.
The legislation would require anyone seeking a Class M (motorcycle) junior driver's license to complete a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation-approved safety course.
The course "gives younger riders good fundamentals," Grove said.
The 15-hour course would be provided free. Anyone under 18 would
have to take the course, which highlights areas such as drinking and driving, defensive driving, and proper motorcycle techniques, he said.
"Experience counts when it comes to motorcycle safety," Grove said. "Operating a motorcycle is very different than driving a car, and my goal is to increase the safety and awareness of Pennsylvania's young motorcyclists."
Crashes: Motorcycle riders face a greater risk than auto drivers of being injured in a crash, Grove said.
Riders involved in a single-vehicle crash have a 96 percent chance of being injured and those involved in a multi-vehicle crash have a 98 percent chance of being injured, Grove said.
Motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die in a crash than individuals in cars.
According to the state's Department of Transportation, there were 11 fatal motorcycle crashes in York County in 2010. Numbers for 2011 are not yet available.
That's down from 15 in 2009, but up from the nine deaths posted in 2008. From 1997 through 2010, a 14-year span, there were 94 fatal motorcycle crashes. That's an average of about seven per year.
Also under Grove's bill, riders on a class M learner's permit and under the age of 18 must complete 65 hours of practical driving and have held the learner's permit for six months before they can take the junior license exam.
Currently, riders have to pass a theroy test in order to get a riders' permint, which is valid for one year, and then pass a driving test to get a motorcyle license.
A course, called the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program, is optional but is not required. If a rider takes and passes the course, they automatically receive a class M license.
Before the bill can become law, it must pass in the Senate and would have to be signed by Gov. Tom Corbett.
-- Reach Greg Gross at 505-5434, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/greggrss.