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Tragic Accident Triggers Change In California Motorcycle Licensing

Friends of a Fair Oaks teen killed in a tragic motorcycle accident have brought about change in California’s motorcycle-licensing law. The law helps ensure that teenage motorcyclists have the knowledge and skill to ride safely.

Young Motorcyclist Killed

Eighteen-year-old Jarrad Cole was fatally injured in a motorcycle crash near his home in Fair Oaks, California. He had passed the written exam for a California motorcycle learner’s permit, and he and his father, who was an experienced motorcycle rider, together bought a motorcycle for Jarrad.

Jarrad’s father drove the motorcycle home and set up orange traffic cones for his son to practice driving in their cul-de-sac street. When the father went into their garage to get more cones, he heard the engine revving and then a thud. The father does not know precisely what happened, but Jarrad suffered a severed chest artery and succumbed to his injuries.

After the accident, Jarrad’s younger brother and a friend decided on a high school senior project with an ambitious goal: change the state’s motorcycle license law. The two sought assistance from then-Assemblyman Roger Niello and lobbyist Michael Hawkins to improve the state licensing requirements for motorcyclists; they were successful.

California’s New Motorcycle License Law

Before January 1, 2011, any person age 15.5 or older could obtain a California motorcycle license simply by passing a written exam. No special training or driving test was required.

Now, new riders under age 21 must attend a 15-hour motorcycle skills and safety class before getting a learner’s permit.

With a learner’s permit, teenage motorcyclists are allowed to ride on streets but not on freeways. They are also prohibited from riding at night or with passengers. After six months, teenage motorcyclists qualify for a motorcycle license, but drivers under age 18 are still prohibited from riding between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. They also may not have passengers under age 20.

The new California motorcycle-licensing law takes important and long-overdue steps to prevent needless motorcycle-accident deaths and increase awareness of motorcycle safety.

Source: Back-Seat Driver: California Toughens Motorcycle License for Teens