Perspective motorcyclists under age 21 must take class to ride with permit

Come Jan. 1, 2011, there will be a new law that requires everyone under age 21 to pass the California Highway Patrol's Motorcycle Safety Program in order to get a learner's permit to ride a motorcycle or motor scooter. Street Smarts chatted with Doug Green, coordinator of the motorcycle safety course offered through Cabrillo Extension and a motorcycle rider since 1987, about the law and how it will impact riders and safety on the road: STREET SMARTS: How does this law impact new riders who are under 21? GREEN: It means the under 21s have to take the (California Motorcycle Safety Program) course before they get their permit for motorcycles. A permit allows a person to ride a motorcycle except at night, on the freeway or with a passenger. After taking the course and getting their permit, they will have to hold it before getting the endorsement on their license. STREET SMARTS: How would this new law impact your course? GREEN: Hard to tell. It does mean those under 21 will have no experience on a motorcycle before they come to us. STREET SMARTS: Do you see many people under age 21 in your class or are they mostly adults 21 and up? GREEN: Most of our students are over 21. This past year we taught approximately 350 students and about 60 were under 21. STREET SMARTS: Why do you think this law was enacted? GREEN: I am not sure. It will require the learning before a students gets on the road, which is a safety issue. STREET SMARTS: How long has the MSP been operating at Cabrillo now? GREEN: We started at Cabrillo in October of 1992. STREET SAMRTS: Have you had anyone fail the course and have to repeat it? GREEN: Yes, there is a scoring system for the final riding evaluation and when a student falls below, they "fail." We invite them back to retake the evaluation, as they do not have to take the whole class over. STREET SMARTS: What advice do you have for anyone who's thinking about becoming a motorcycle rider? GREEN: Take a rider course before buying a motorcycle to make sure you like to ride. The course is a cheap investment to make sure it is something you really want to do. Click here for more information about obtaining a motorcycle license.
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