Integration Between Rider Education and Licensing
All of the State programs identified for the promising-practices study maintain a close working relationship with the licensing agency in their States. For three States, Delaware, Maryland, and Nevada, the collaboration is facilitated by the fact that the rider education and licensing programs are housed within the same administrative agency. Though not located within the same office as the licensing agency, the administrative staffs for Idaho and Oregon work just as closely with the licensing departments in their respective States.
The tight linkages between the rider education and licensing programs are manifested in several ways. First, all five of the programs advise the licensing agencies on licensing standards and train the licensing examiners. Several administrators mentioned that the training of licensing examiners was particularly important because many of the examiners have no familiarity with motorcycles prior to the training. The programs are also called on to write or revise the licensing manual for motorcyclists. In Oregon, where Team Oregon contracts with the State Department of Motor Vehicles to review licensing issues, Team Oregon staff offers guidance about the qualifications of riders licensed in other States.
Because all the States but one offer skills and knowledge tests waivers following the successful completion of a course (Idaho is the only State that does not offer both), coordination between the training and licensing agencies is critical so that the licensing agency has the confidence that course graduates have the same skills as individuals who go directly to the licensing agency. The integration between the programs helps foster this confidence, as well as the fact that across the States, the requirements for passing a novice rider education course are viewed as more stringent than the licensing agency’s requirements.
In addition to benefiting the licensing agency, the close working relationship may also help the rider education program. As the administrator of one program explained:
“Right now we’re using DMV property all over the State to do our training
In Maryland, where the licensing agency and the rider education program are housed in the same department, the two organizations have collaborated to introduce a “one-stop shop” for licensing, where graduates of the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program will immediately receive a motorcycle endorsement when they successfully complete a State-sponsored course. The two programs also work together to encourage unlicensed riders to ride legally by operating five “after-hours” testing centers across the State. Instructors in the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program administer skills tests to riders from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration licensing sites. Not only can students take their tests after hours, they are also allowed to use motorcycles owned by the Maryland Motorcycle Safety Program. Maryland’s administrators hope that the program will offer a solution to two of the main reasons that riders do not get a license: the inconvenience of normal testing hours and the difficulty of passing a skills test on a large motorcycle.