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Motorcycle safety a growing priority in Michigan

New Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says a top priority is motorcycle safety. To make that point, Johnson (pictured) got on a Harley at Oakland Community College in Farmington Hills and drove around to preach to the uninitiated.

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Johnson's message if you're a motorcyclist in Michigan is to stay safe on the road by getting trained and licensed, wearing the right gear and sharing the road with others on two, four and 18 wheels.

“Safety is a rider’s No. 1 priority,” Johnson, a Republican who was elected in November, told reporters at a news conference. “Even riders who have years of experience can be surprised at what they’ll learn at a motorcycle safety course.”

Johnson has been a motorcyclist since she was a teenager. She said she believes she is one of the first women in Michigan to get endorsed. A motorcycle endorsement on a driver’s license is required by law to ride on public roads.

Motorcycling is growing in Michigan. The number of endorsed riders has jumped almost 50,000, to 553,000, in the past four years.

To earn an endorsement, riders must pass a knowledge test and safety course or skills test. A safety course is a must for minors and adults who fail the skills test twice.

More than 87,000 students have learned to ride a motorcycle with state-sponsored training since 2004. Go to for a list of motorcycle safety-training programs.

In addition to motorcycle safety, the state wants to honor military veterans who are bikers by allowing them to have license plates that reflect the branch of the military they served in.

Legislation is pending in Michigan that would create the military service branch motorcycle plates. Johnson supports the proposal.

You can reach Hawke Fracassa of at [email protected].

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