When Jeff Myers of Tacoma took his motorcycle test five years ago, he passed it the first time. Hes failed the revamped test the state started giving Aug. 1 twice.
He hasnt been told what caused him to lose the points needed to pass, but the only differences hes noticed between the old and new tests are several turns instructors have asked him to make this time around.
Washington state has had more than 60 fatal motorcycle accidents so far this year.
The Pierce County Sheriffs Department responded to its fifth fatal motorcycle wreck this year late last month, when Gig Harbors Ty Barnes left the road in the 5000 block of Reid Drive Northwest on a right-hand curve, hit a large rock and flipped. The 23-year-old JBLM airman did not have a motorcycle endorsement, sheriffs spokesman Ed Troyer said at the time.
Such curves are being targeted in the states new test.
A 2006 study done by the states Motorcycle Safety Taskforce began the work that led to the new test, state Department of Licensing spokesman Brad Benfield said.
The group found that about 60 percent of motorcycle fatalities in the state were at least partly the result of the driver erroneously leaving his or her lane mistakes that are mostly curve-related, Benfield said.
The new test evaluates a drivers ability to take curves at a proper speed without veering outside marked lines.
It appears as though its not as easy a test as the other one, Benfield said. More people are having to take it more than once.
But he said its too early to pin down any specific trends with the new exam.
Washington is the first state to implement the test for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, a national organization that promotes rider safety through training and education.
Were basically serving as the pilot for this test that they plan to push out nationwide starting next spring, Benfield said.
Puget Sound Safety is one of the companies administering the new exam at its locations in Tacoma and Olympia. The Department of Licensing transferred testing to the states motorcycle training schools, also as of Aug. 1.
Those states along the coast, especially the West Coast where we have very mountainous, very curvy roads, were having issues navigating those corners, Puget Sound Safety president Bret Tkacs said. We still do basic skills like breaking, swerving, but we also have a curve now, so we can at least go, Can you stay between the lines?
He said its too soon to tell if the new exam is tougher.
Thats still in debate, Tkacs said. Its a brand new test. The jury is still out on all of that, as to whether its more difficult or not.
Myers said he plans to take the test at least one more time, but after that, hell consider selling his bike.
If you cant get a license for it, you cant really ride it, he said.
An instructor and student talk about the Basic Rider Course offered by
Puget Sound Safety in the parking lot of Cheney Stadium. At the end of
the class, students take the motorcycle endorsement test.