Connecticut’s New Mandatory Motorcycle Training Law Aims to Save Lives

A new state law, signed by Governor Jodi Rell on June 1, 2010 (to take effect on January 1, 2011), requires all Connecticut residents applying for a new motorcycle operator's license to attend and successfully complete some form of state-sponsored training course.

Current law only mandates that 16- or 17-year-olds seeking a motorcycle license be trained. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) offers one such course - the Connecticut Rider Education Program - and it has certified several private organizations (such as driver education schools) to offer similar trainings throughout the state.

This bill was inspired by an East Hartford resident who endured a parent's worst nightmare. Stephanie Pelletier's son Nicholas died in a 2008 motorcycle crash. Like more than 90 percent of other motorcycle riders, Nicholas was self-taught. She is convinced that if Nicholas had been better trained on how to operate the motorcycle - the kind of knowledge he would have gained at a formal education course - he could have prevented the collision that took his life.

Sadly, Mrs. Pelletier's story is all-too-common. The Connecticut DOT reports that in 2009 alone, 37 motorcycle riders and four passengers were killed in accidents. Every year thousands of people across the nation die in motorcycle-related crashes, and around 50,000 suffer serious injury. Obviously, the lack of protection offered by a motorcycle and their lack of visibility are factors, but operator error plays a large role - nearly half of all motorcycle accidents are single-vehicle, the result of a rider's losing control, colliding with an inanimate object or laying the bike down.

Since motorcycles are a cost-effective method of transportation and many people love the freedom associated with them, they are increasingly popular. There are well over 200,000 licensed riders in just Connecticut. The hope is that this new mandatory training course law will help prevent many injuries, but some wrecks are inevitable. If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle-related accident, you should seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your rights and options.