Efforts to Improve Motorcycle Safety

New York State Motorcycle Safety Program (NYSMSP)

The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has established a rider-funded motorcycle safety program as required by legislation signed in 1997. The primary purpose of the motorcycle safety program is to have rider education accessible and affordable throughout New York State. A program goal is to reduce the number of motorcyclist injuries and fatalities with an emphasis on rider education and motorist awareness of motorcycles. The program uses a nationally recognized motorcycle training curriculum developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF).

All MSF-sponsored training sites participating in the NYSMSP offer the 18-hour Basic Rider Course (BRC) and most offer the 8-hour Basic Rider Course 2 License/Waiver Course (BRC2-LW). The BRC, geared towards beginning riders, covers the basics of operating a motorcycle and mental strategies for safe operation. The BRC2-LW is a condensed version of the BRC and is geared toward riders who have had a motorcycle permit for at least one year and have on-road experience and basic street riding skills. Currently, there are over 20 training schools with over 40 training ranges that deliver rider training throughout New York State.

As an alternative to the traditional motorcycle road test given at the DMV, a person is now eligible to secure a class M or MJ license provided that he or she is the holder of a valid New York driver's license and has successfully completed either the 18-hour Basic Rider Course or the 8-hour Basic Rider Course 2 License/Waiver Course. 

For more information or to find a training site near you, please visit the NYSMSP's website or call them at 1 (800) 446-9227.

The Motorcycle Safety Program is funded by New York's motorcyclists from a portion of the motorcycle license and motorcycle registration fees. These fees are used exclusively for the implementation and administration of the statewide motorcycle safety program.

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

The month of May has been proclaimed as "Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month." The Governor issued a Proclamation urging all motorists to show extra caution in sharing the road with motorcyclists. During the month of May, the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee (GTSC) highlights important safety messages via press releases, public service announcements and social media posts.

Motorcycle Helmet Law

New York was the first state in the nation to adopt a universal motorcycle helmet law. This law, effective as of January 1, 1967, requires any person operating or riding a motorcycle to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet. Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders and 41% for motorcycle passengers.

Promotional Activities and Events

Program information is distributed from displays at several motorcycling events throughout the year. MSF and DMV sponsor an exhibit at the annual International Motorcycle Show held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.

They also have an exhibit at Americade, "the world's largest tour expo" held in the Village of Lake George during the second week of June. DMV's Communications Office has distributed motorcycle safety information at the International Auto Show, the New York State Fair and other events throughout the year.

Motorcycle Awareness Campaigns

GTSC promotes motorcycle awareness at gas stations located throughout New York State. Motorcycle awareness messages are affixed to fuel pump toppers and nozzle handles throughout the riding season, representing a unique opportunity to reach a variety of road users.

Motorcycle Enforcement Training

The motorcycle safety and enforcement training program "Practical Guidelines for Motorcycle Enforcement" continues to be a popular and effective training initiative for law enforcement officers across the state. GTSC, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police (NYSACOP), the Town of Colonie Police Department and the State Police collaborate on the instruction for this one-day regional training course. The training curriculum includes an in-depth review of motorcycle safety and motorcycle laws.

The course is designed to provide police officers with hands-on knowledge and skills to educate motorcyclists and the public on motorcycle safety and enhance enforcement efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from motorcycle-related traffic crashes. The training also introduces law enforcement to national and state-specific enforcement issues through its modules covering license endorsements and registrations, required motorcycle safety equipment (helmets), common motorcycle operation violations, crash investigation, strategies to conduct safe stops and avoid pursuits, and the detection of impaired motorcyclists.

To date, over 1,300 law enforcement officers have successfully completed this training in New York State.

Share the Road Summit

In 2018, GTSC hosted the state's first-ever Share the Road Summit, an event dedicated entirely to motorcycle safety and awareness. This one-day summit, held on Friday, September 14th at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY, attracted approximately 118 motorcyclists, general motorists, law enforcement partners and other traffic safety professionals.

Custom Motorcycle Plates

With the increased attention to motorcycles, there is also a desire by motorcyclists to feature their favorite cause on their motorcycle plate. DMV has introduced several motorcycle custom plates. The first two custom plates designed specifically for motorcycles: the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) plate and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) plate. The plates feature each organization's logo and are also available for cars and trucks. New York is the first state to offer these distinctive plates to members of H.O.G. and to supporters of the AMA. DMV has added motorcycle plates for Blue Knights members. In 2003, DMV introduced motorcycle versions of the Purple Heart Recipient's and Military Veteran's plates. Many additional motorcycle plates are available.

Custom plate promotions provide another opportunity for DMV to promote motorcycle safety and the rider education program. For more information, please visit Motorcycle Custom Plates at NYS DMV.