Up to this point, motorcyclists in Alabama have been able to ride across the state without taking any safety training. As a result, anyone with a driver’s license can operate a motorcycle on the roadways, even if it is the first time that person has ridden one. The dangers that this poses to riders – and to others on the road – has not been lost on the Alabama legislature.
The American Automobile Association notes that beginning Jan. 1, 2016, anyone who is getting a driver’s license must take an additional written test or a motorcycle safety course in order to have a Class M designation and legally operate a motorcycle. By registering with the Alabama Director of Public Safety, anyone 14 years old or older can receive a license to operate a motorcycle. There are graduated drivers licensing operating restrictions for those who are under the age of 17.
According to Al.com, this bill is welcome news to motorcyclists in the state. Not only does the lack of training put the operators and others in danger, it also puts liability on the riders in the event of an accident.
The Class M endorsement has already been available to anyone who would voluntarily take a written test. Since other states require the classification, some riders who cross state lines regularly have the endorsement, and these will be grandfathered in. After the start of the new year, if law enforcement pulls over a motorcyclist and he or she does not have the M classification, a ticket will be issued.