What does PA Title 75 § 7911(a) actually say about the PA Motorcycle Safety Education Program?

Amended in 1984 to add Motorcycles to Title 75 of the PA Consolidated Statutes it also included the creation of a Motorcycle Safety Education Program.

On April 18th, 2020, the Contract to Administer that Program was cancelled by PennDOT. Not due to budget, the Program is self-funding. Not because the Program was running, it was already suspended due to COVID19. But cancelled all the same for the first time in 35 years.

What does Title 75 § 7911(a) actually say:

Title 75 § 7911(a) is where you’ll find the definition of the PAMSP – but let’s dig in a little as to what it actually says…

  1. The department shall establish a motorcycle safety education program throughout this Commonwealth.

    “The department” shall establish a commonwealth-wide Motorcycle safety education Program. Typically it does this by picking a vendor to contract to Administer “The Program” providing service across the Commonwealth.
  2. It shall approve and conduct an annual review of course material for authorized schools.”

    There are a few commercially available (licensed) curricula.
    Many times the Program Administrator is the curricula creator.
    Yearly course material review? Easy peasy.
  3. “It shall certify all instructors and shall include a uniform curriculum for the course of instruction and training requirements for instructors.”

    Another no-brainer:
    See #2 above – the course materials are based on a curriculum, the commercially available curricula have certification standards. Note, the statute says a “uniform” curriculum for the course of instruction – in the past this had meant a single curriculum Commonwealth-wide, in the future will PennDOT consider this per school? If so, why?
    This could not be easier – and since the Program Administrators are generally the curricula creators and/or have certified Instructor Trainers on staff “The department” can address this easily, and has for years.
  4. “The department shall be responsible for certifying schools to conduct approved motorcycle safety courses and…”

    Ok, this is getting too easy:
    “The department” has a list of schools they approve.
  5. “…shall adopt such necessary rules and regulations to govern the administration of motorcycle education within this Commonwealth.”

    Ok, could be over-complicated but…
    “The department” hires a 3rd party company who writes the rules and regulations and reviews them. For instance, the Program Administrator.

How did this get so complicated?

You are probably wondering how this whole thing got so complicated.
One word: Bureaucracy.

Reading the above you’ll see “the Department” is to create the Program, select a uniform curricula, use certified Instructors, at Schools it certifies & approves of, across the Commonwealth. So can it dissolve the Program, no, not really (that’s a Legislative thing).

Where things can get a little complicated is that “the department” can “adopt such rules and regulations that govern the administration of motorcycle education within the Commonwealth”.

So can it cancel the contract with the Program Administrator?
The question is if they’ve selected the Administrator, approved a uniform curricula, reviewed the materials, approved all of the schools and have properly trained and certified Instructors why would they need to?

Certainly COVID19 has presented unforeseen challenges for 2020 but had one person at PennDOT not cancelled the contract, already under suspension at the time for COVID19, without any mediation, terminating all employees, cancelling all classes possible to restart for 2020 we’d likely be having a very different conversation.

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