July 17--The state governor has signed into law a bill that allows motorcycle-riding military members in North Carolina to be eligible for the same insurance discounts their civilian counterparts receive for completing motorcycle safety courses.
Military members are currently required by Marine Corps order to take two levels of motorcycle safety courses on-base if they plan to purchase and ride a motorcycle. Chris Field and Ron Farris, motorcycle training and safety coordinators for Camp Lejeune, said the military's motorcycle safety course is identical to the optional safety course for civilians taught off-base at Coastal Carolina Community College, minus the $120 price tag.
Both programs offer courses for basic, experienced and advanced riders, but because the military's program was not recognized by the state until Thursday, service members were ineligible to receive insurance discounts from some insurance providers unless they took the same course again off-base.
House Bill 1044, which was introduced in May by N.C. Reps. Phil Shepard, R-Onslow, and Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, allows military members who have taken the mandatory on-base motorcycle safety course to receive the same motorcycle insurance discounts civilians have been receiving for years. The bill was signed by Gov. Bev Perdue on Thursday.
"A lot of our military were taking the course that the military offers and couldn't get the discount because it wasn't a state-certified course," Shepard said. "We wanted to make sure the courses were basically the same ... Based on what we learned both courses were very good and provided the same information."
The act will take effect Oct. 1 and although it's a step for military motorcycle safety courses, Field and Farris said the battle isn't over.
"The state of North Carolina doesn't recognize our basic riders course when it comes to getting a motorcycle endorsement on your license," Farris said.
The motorcycle safety course at CCCC currently offers graduates a waiver that allows them to skip the skills section of the motorcycle licensing exam at the DMV. Graduates must still take the written exam, but military motorcycle safety course graduates are not given the opportunity to skip the skills portion of the exam like civilian motorcycle riders, Field and Farris said.
HB 1044 talks of providing insurance discounts for military members, but makes no mention of DMV skills test waivers. For the time being, service members will still have to take the full exam, regardless of if they've completed their mandatory on-base safety course.
Contact Daily News Military Reporter Amanda Wilcox at 910-219-8453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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