TOPEKA — Under current law, motorcycle drivers are required to have a Class M driver’s license or learner’s permit. However, individuals who purchase a motorcycle are exempt from that law for the first 60 days of ownership. They are required to only have a temporary 60-day paper license plate.  

Gov. Laura Kelly recently approved a bill that would remove this loophole in licensing requirements. Previously, the Senate passed Senate Bill 17 40-0 and the House passed it 101-22.

Travis Lowe, a supporter of the bill, represented AAA Kansas in his testimony before the House and Senate committees on transportation. Lowe said the bill ensures that any person driving a motorcycle on Kansas roads must have a Class M driver’s license or learner's permit. As a result, it would help reduce the motorcycle accident rate in Kansas, he said.

According to the Kansas Department of Transportation, from 2014-2018, 48% of all total motorcycle crashes involved drivers who did not have a Class M driver’s license or learner’s permit. In those same years, of all total motorcycle fatalities, 51% involved drivers who had neither.

“[The bill] simply ensures that motorcycle drivers, regardless of when they purchase their motorcycle, have the proper training to operate and drive,” Lowe said.

According to the bill’s fiscal note, the Department of Revenue reported that enactment of SB 17 would require updates to staffing training and manuals, and it would also increase applications for motorcycle licenses. Otherwise, no substantial fiscal impact was reported.

The bill will be effective on July 1, 2019.

Angel Tran is a University of Kansas senior from Wichita majoring in journalism.

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