It would appear that many states are liking the co authored law of two young California teenagers. Connecticut and Oregon have both implemented new - mandatory rider training for all potential motorcyclists. In the case of Connecticut though they have taken it to a new level. If you are 30 or under and never had a motorcycle license you will be required to take the basic safety course.

On top of that the NTSB is calling for a mandatory helmet law for all states.

Now I am a proponent for choice but the mandatory rider training is something that I personally think is a good thing for a number of reasons. Firstly, too many young people
(I remember being young once) tend to think they are invincible and take chances they really shouldn't based on their skill levels. (If they are allowed to grow to old age, they realize that certain chances they took were not really the best ideas they had ever had.
I too can look back with that kind of perfect 20/20 vision called hindsight and say, yup that chance I took back then, was pretty dumb.)

Secondly, with so many people on the roadways that do NOT know the rules of the road it is just plain smart to get trained and I don't mean just motorcyclists - I think ALL car drivers should have to take a mandatory course.

Thirdly - there are millions more people using the roadways that are not paying attention to the job of driving. Texting, calling on cell phones, scolding kids - they are so busy inside their vehicles that what is going on outside of their vehicles doesn't appear to register.
With the higher number of vehicles on the road and the increased dangers - training can and will save your life. (I remember a time on Canadian roads when you could go for hours and scarcely see another vehicle. Try that today - and yes, I realize I am dating myself.)

There are those who feel another law is not a good thing. I disagree - I think a SMART law that has the potential of increasing your enjoyment of your motorcycle is a good thing.
Mandatory training will, (if implemented consistently - and I am talking the quality of the training here) increase the persons ability, will make them a better car driver, (at least one that is more aware of their surroundings - I know it has made me a more aware driver)

I think we have too many laws on our books that are dumb, out dated and in many cases knee jerk reaction laws and not well thought out - off the top of my head,  the pay before you fuel law in BC that came about because a young person was killed in a robbery because he wasn't taught properly to let the robbers go, is a knee jerk reaction law that was poorly thought out.

This one however, born by two teenagers has HUGE merit, it took two years to come about and they had input from a rather large number of people. I think however law makers need to take it one step farther and make it mandatory to take driver training for ALL vehicle drivers. The only reason I feel ANY apprehension about this law at all - it's discriminatory - it's holding motorcyclists to a different standard than the rest of the road users.

The young men who co authored this law were directly impacted by the motorcycle accident that caused them to write it, had it been that the brother who died had been driving a car untrained perhaps they would have targeted teen driving. I get that, but the law makers themselves should be more cognizant and should see the value in training all people instead of punishing them.

I watch shows like Canada's WORST Driver and all I want is the license of the driver examiner who gave these people their license.  We see through that show the absolute inconsistency of driver examiners - to me THEY are one of the weakest links in the system.
I feel that they are in some ways personally responsible for some of the very dangerous drivers that are on our roadways.

There are dumb laws that make hard working, decent people into criminals. There are dumb laws that inconvenience people unnecessarily, all because common sense was not used to write them. There are further dumb laws that are put it place that are simply there to increase the coffers of the jurisdictions they are implemented in.

Then there are laws that make sense.
Mandatory driver/rider training is smart economics in my humble opinion.
Any time you empower people through training two things happen.

The more knowledgeable some one is, in any discipline or any job, the less of a drain they are on resources.

The less the drain on resources, the more productivity goes up.

With the implementation of mandatory Driver & Rider training, the benefits should be that jurisdictions are spending less resources in hospitals, policing resources would be allocated to different and more effective uses of their time, insurance would go down, fewer people would be mourning and our community would be bigger.

The helmet thing - well, I am still a conflicted person on that one. At some point, if we are trained and have knowledge, I think that our degree of risk should be a decision left up to us. In Florida, you can ride without a helmet as long as you can prove you have $10K minimum in health care insurance so that you are not a drain on the medical system and do not infringe upon the rights of other taxpayers. Since riding like driving is a privilege,
I think paying extra for that privilege of riding without a helmet is a fair trade off. (Provided you have a sticker on your plate so the police have no reason to stop you unnecessarily.)

As I said, I am conflicted on the helmet law - part of me understands that the governments are trying to find ways to reduce deaths and long hospital stays that are a burden on the system  - at the same time I the old rebel in me says quit telling me what to do.

I do feel that if the governments put money in to training people, if they made the mandatory training either free or subsidized it, it would not take very long for them to see a huge reduction in other resources that would allow them to use those resources in a wiser and more efficient manner.

Am I a dreamer? Probably, but for once, there is a law I believe in. I just wished that it was mandatory for all beginner drivers, no matter their weapon, I mean vehicle of choice.

I wished the governments would subsidize it and I wished that the training offered was more consistent - as shows like Canada's Worst Driver show - we also need FAR better driver examiners and THEY need to be held more accountable for the job they do and the people they give licenses to.

That's my two bits worth on this topic - I WOULD LOVE to hear yours!
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There is a whack of other stuff in the news but I have a ton of work to accomplish in the next 5 days so every minute counts...go check out the news of the day at where we scour the news feeds so you don't have to.

There is one thing I do want to draw your attention to - a Survey request from the Department of Transportation and Safety in Alberta...if you ride here, please fill it out.
You have a chance to impact riding styles and behaviours through awareness commercials and signage.

Please if you are attending New Year's parties, plan your way home in advance!
If you are driving- please take care on the roads and cherish those you love the way you cherish your motorcycle.

Belt Drive Betty
Editor & Rider

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  1. As many of your readers know, I'm a road safety advocate and I FULLY stand behind mandatory driver & rider training. I've even submitted recommendations to the Ministry of Transportation but not surprisingly it fell on deaf ears.

    As mentioned in this post, driving is a privilege, not a right. We already have to pay for that privilege (insurance, gas, maintenance, etc) so I believe that new drivers should also have to pay for their driver training. Although our entire system needs to be redesigned. Currently our Ministry testers and Ministry sanctioned schools only really focus on the rules of the road and NO emphasis is given to skills. The basic theory being that if you know the rules of the road just well enough, you are good enough to be on the road. This is total nonsense.

    Not only should schools be mandatory, but the entire curriculum needs a revamp to not only cover rules of the road but also advanced driving skills. Skid control & recovery, high speed lane changes, collision avoidance, emergency braking, etc. ALL need to be drilled into drivers and those skills need to be part of the Ministry testing. When I teach as an advanced driving instructor, these are the skills that I teach my students and they are drilled again and again. Some students just can't do it consistently but skills like these need to be almost instinctive and executed instantly.

    When a car looses control in front of you on the highway, its not your knowledge of what the speed limit is that will save you from a collision. Your skill behind the wheel will but if you haven't been trained to deal with extreme conditions, you will panic, suffer target fixation and crash. It happens hundreds of times a day across the country and every single crash could have been avoided had at least one of the drivers involved had more skill and situational awareness.

    Yes revamping the whole system will cost millions however, once that is done, the costs of the schools will be absorbed by the students and the savings to our health care and emergency services would be far more than the costs required to make the changes. Savings would be realized in as little as five years.

    As for helmet laws, I see it as the same as seat belt laws. Our skull is very delicate and it doesn't take much of an impact to cause serious damage. Even in Florida (and other states) that have a rule about having $10k in medical insurance doesn't really fly with me. Especially not in the USA where medical fees are so high that $10k could be easily used up in one week (or less) of hospital stays, medical treatments and surgeries.