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Maryland Highway Safety Office rolls out Motorcycle Safety and Awareness program

Thursday is last chance to chance to take advantage Fast Track program at the Hagerstown-area MVA

May 02, 2012|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Instructor Dawn Douglas, right, gives Holger Haber directions at his motorcycle driving test Wednesday morning as part of Maryland's Fast Track program.
By Yvette May, Staff Photographer

Sixty-six motorcycle riders died, and an additional 1,509 were injured on Maryland’s roadways in 2011.

To bring those numbers down, the Maryland Highway Safety Office is using its Motorcycle Safety and Awareness program to stress the importance of being more careful on the road.

On Wednesday, state and county officials were at the Motor Vehicle Administration building south of Hagerstown to promote the program. They’ll be there again all day Thursday.

“If there’s a crash between a car and a motorcycle, the motorcycle always loses,” said Peter Moe, motorcycle safety coordinator for the safety office.

The state averages about 1,900 motorcycle crashes every year, Moe said. Eighty percent of those accidents involve a fatality or an injury.

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Moe said many of the riders who are involved in accidents don’t have an operator’s license. He said the process to obtain a license usually involves the candidate passing the written test, then waiting a few weeks to take the riding portion.

But in an effort to license more riders, the MVA is offering the Fast Track program, an initiative that allows riders to take both tests on the same day.

The chance to take advantage of the offer this year at the Hagerstown-area MVA expires Thursday.
“We have to give them an opportunity to be legal,” Moe said.

Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore said motorists need to be aware that they’re sharing the road with motorcycle riders, who are often difficult to see.

He said motorists should be particularly careful when they’re stopped at intersections.

“Don’t be in a hurry that you don’t take the time to look that second time,” Mullendore said.

About 40 people were scheduled to participate in the Fast Track program Wednesday and today, MVA officials said.

Unlike the usual testing procedure, if riders in the Fast Track program don’t pass on the first try, they get coaching and can take the test again on the spot.

Sabillasville resident Earl Rockwood said he has been riding a motorcycle for about four years on a learner’s permit.

He said he supports the Fast Track program because he doesn’t have to adjust his schedule several times to get a license.

“It’s less time off work,” he said. “I’ve had my learner’s permit twice and never had the time to take the test.”

Rich Newberger of Baltimore said he has been riding off and on for 15 years.

He agreed with Rockwood, saying he also believed that the Fast Track program was a quick and convenient way to get a license.

“It definitely makes sense to do this if you’ve been riding and don’t have a license,” he said. “It’s a lot cheaper than a ticket.”

Maryland's Fast Track program

To learn more about Maryland’s Fast Track program, visit mva.maryland.gov/MVA-Programs/moto/fast-track-licensing.htm.

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