New rules for motorcyclists took effect this week requiring bikers to take a skills test when renewing their beginner permits, according to the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
If they pass, they'll get a motorcycle license. If they fail, they will still be allowed to renew their beginner permit, according to the DMV.
The DMV says too many motorcyclists only have a beginner permit instead of an operating license. Motorcyclist can continuously renew beginner permits every year without limit instead of applying for a motorcycle license.
There are about 112,000 motorcycles registered in South Carolina, and the DMV says that about 30 percent of them are operated by those with beginner permits, not licensed motorcycle riders.
"If they don't have a motorcycle license, we don't know if they are truly capable of operating a motorcycle," said DMV executive director Kevin Shwedo. "We have found motorcycle riders who have renewed their beginner permits five, 10 and even 13 times.
"If they can't operate their bike after a year or two of practice, they don't need to be on the road at all."
Starting Monday, motorcyclist hoping to renew their permits have to demonstrate they can do sharp turns and U-turns to the left and right, weave through cones, perform sudden stops, ride around curves and avoid obstacles.
Numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Governors Highway Safety Association indicate that motorcycle fatalities have been rising since 2011.
The rule change, designed to increase safety, is supported by the S.C. Motorcycle Safety Task Force, which includes representatives from state and county agencies and motorcycle groups.
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