PAMSP – A fully funded Commonwealth program you have no say in.

PAMSP – Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program for those of you new to the site – was created by the Legislature back in the 80s when they added Motorcycles to Title 75. It was intended to train motorcyclists in an effort to keep them safe. Unlike other programs it is, to this day, fully funded via fees collected from motorcyclists. Unfortunately it’s a program which you have absolutely no say in as a citizen or a motorcyclist.

Over the past ~10 years the Program has suffered from a number of management issues that have left it unable to meet its mandate. That has a cost in both monetary value and lives.

2018-2020 were rebuilding years. In the last year we have data for (2019) under the new Total Control training curricula introduced 3 years ago motorcycle deaths have decreased, by double digits. This is not isolated, California which also runs under the Total Control training curricula has also seen a drop in fatalities as well.

2020 was likely going to continue that trend, increase the number and types of riders trained – until the contract was cancelled and all staff and Instructors, already under suspension, were fired.

So who can you talk to?

You have no way of contacting or discussing PAMSP directions or operations with PennDOT. They flat out cancelled the training contract in 2020 without any feedback or mediation – first time in 35yrs – so there is currently no better example. Funded by the motorcyclists of PA, who are unable to petition their Gov’t. That’s a shame, because motorcycling is inclusive, generally positive and training is critical – and in PA fully supported by motorcyclists who have no say in how their money is spent.

You can’t speak to anyone at PAMSP because there is no one. The only remaining PAMSP “staff” are really those managing the program on behalf of PennDOT. While they may care about the Program they work for PennDOT and as such are unable to say anything, to anyone, which means you don’t have a say, and will be hard pressed to contact anyone to talk to. Nothing they are doing has any transparency, you’ll just have to wait and see. No say.

Total Control:
While other organizations are meeting with PennDOT/PAMSP they don’t include Total Control. Total Control, who’s curricula was most recently used for PAMSP, isn’t part of the discussions as to what comes next for PAMSP. That could directly impact the Instructors who may face being certified in yet another curricula (and which again will cause attrition & delays). A new curricula would again cause Program start up delays, recruitment issues and a deficit of available classes as has existed over the last few years. Curricula need to be licensed and if they aren’t involved that’s not a good sign as to their future with PAMSP nor an understanding of the potential costs involved, how training will be conducted, etc. So at this point they’ve no say, and you’ve no say in what curricula to keep (that is a PennDOT decision).

External Groups:
External groups are those such as “Motorcycle rights” groups. You also don’t have a say there either. As has been reported by a few people on the Interwebs (which, by the way, is where the ideas for these posts sometimes come from) there is a small group of people working “with” PennDOT on the future of PAMSP from one of these groups. Does this ‘work’ exist in any position papers, manifestos, communication to the members, round tables with members and/or experts, open meetings with PennDOT? Nope – interestingly, as with PAMSP and PennDOT apparently we’ll be told what we’re told when others decide we should hear it… so, no say.

There are about 200 certified Instructors in PA. This is the most marginalized group of all. Intimate Program knowledge, dedicated hundreds of personal hours, work nights and weekends, constantly & highly trained, generally all PA residents, simply at the mercy of PennDOT, pawns in the game of chess that appears to be PAMSP. You can certainly talk to them but you’d be just about the only one doing so. 200 out of ~10M voting age PA citizens isn’t a lot of people, no wonder they have no say (other than to come back, or not). Instructors? No say.

The PA Legislature:
What about the Legislature you ask? Surely you have a say there? No, not really. Most have no idea what PAMSP actually is or why they should care about it. A number of us have been in contact with our Representatives. Most think it was simply cancelled due to COVID (no) and/or concerns around funding (nope, fully funded). Some may sound interested, but never follow up. You may be able to spice things up & get their attention by talking about dead motorcyclists but, honestly, that is just not enough dead people for them to care about. Bigger things to tackle, the Commonwealth is super busy – plus the press from passing the law is over 30yrs old now and has no relevancy in 2020.

Where do we go from here?

So here we are in June 2020, “Motorcycle Safety Month” (PS, that was in May, by the way) has come and gone and how does PennDOT/PAMSP celebrate it? By developing a licensing work around for under 18 riders under Act 84 of 2012 licensing restrictions that includes no training…

This is all happening while people/groups are meeting with PennDOT (when they aren’t cancelling the meetings because the concerned public asks to join…) behind closed doors. Keep in mind they are simply small groups of people in these meeting, meetings to which residents of PA have zero visibility to, discussions we have no record of.

Most of PA simply won’t know or care about PAMSP, past or future. For those who do care they don’t have a say in what is coming, will just have to accept what the end result is. The process is wholly Un-American (at least Un-Commonwealthian if you’re a States-rights type of person) as dictation, not discourse, is the equivalent of you having no say which, as a citizen, and a motorcyclist, should be something you speak up against.

As of now, as a motorcyclist, in PA you have no voice regarding the PAMSP program you fund. Keep contacting your Representative, point them to this page – perhaps, someday, you will.

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